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Spruce Kings take 1-0 series lead over Express

Despite being shorthanded five times in the first period, the Prince George Spruce Kings prevailed over the Coquitlam Express Friday night to take a 1-0 playoff series lead.

The Spruce Kings skated to a 3-1 win in front of 1,267 raucous fans at the Rolling Mix Concrete arena to start the 2019 BCHL playoffs.

Ironically, even though they were shorthanded for much of the first period, the Spruce Kings were ahead 1-0 after the first frame on the strength of a power play marker from team captain Ben Poisson. Lucas Vanroboys and Layton Ahac assisted.

Connor Gregga tied the game up early in the second with Dustin Manz in the box for a kneeing penalty he got in the last minute of the first penalty.

Ahac got the winner about five minutes later when he put one past Clay Stevenson in the Express net on a set-up from Poisson.

Manz got some redemption for being in the box for Coquitlam’s lone goal when he scored on a set up from Ben Brar late in the third to give the Spruce Kings the insurance marker.

The Express pulled Stevenson, but the Spruce Kings kept the onslaught at bay.

Logan Neaton made 21 saves in the Spruce Kings net, while Stevenson made 26 saves at the other end of the rink.

Poisson was named the game’s first star, Ahac the second star, and Stevenson the third.

Game 2 in the series goes tonight at Rolling Mix Concrete Arena in Prince George. Game time is 7 p.m. The series will then move to Coquitlam for Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Tuesday.