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Spruce Kings to face Grizzles in third round

The Grizzlies are coming to town.

They will be the Prince George Spruce Kings’ competition in the third round of the BCHL playoffs, which get underway on Friday at the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena. The Spruce Kings swept the Chilliwack Chiefs to advance to the third round.

Marty Westhaver scored twice, Riley Hughes had three points and Kurtis Chapman stopped 27 of 28 shots as the Victoria Grizzlies defeated the Powell River Kings 6-1 in Game 7 of their second-round series to advance to the third round.

Carter Berger opened the scoring for the Grizzlies with a power-play marker with under six minutes to go in the period and Westhaver notched his first of the game shortly after to make it 2-0 Victoria after one. Hughes continued his strong play of late by scoring his second of the playoffs midway through the second, but Neal Samanski got the Kings on the board before the end of the frame to make it 3-1. The floodgates opened in the third as Alex Newhook, Westhaver and Nico Somerville each scored goals to make it a 6-1 final.

The Grizzlies outshot the Kings 46-28 in the game and went three-for-four with the man advantage. Hughes, named BCHL Player of the Week Sunday, added two assists to his goal, giving him a league-best 15 helpers in the playoffs. With his two goals, Westhaver now has eight in the post-season, tied for fourth in the BCHL, and already halfway to his regular-season total of 16. Newhook finished with a goal and an assist and is now one back of the BCHL playoff scoring lead with 19 points in 11 games.

Victoria will get a few days off to recover and then head to Prince George to take on the Spruce Kings in Game 1 of the third round.

In the other Game 7, it was the Vernon Vipers scoring early and often as they got out to a 3-1 lead in the first period and never looked back, taking the deciding game by a score of 5-2 over the Trail Smoke Eaters and advancing to the Interior Division Finals.

Josh Latta, Nicholas Cherkowski and Jagger Williamson each scored for Vernon in the opening period, while Hayden Rowan had one for Trail as the Smoke Eaters were down by two after one. Vipers defenseman Carver Watson scored the only goal in the second, notching his first of the postseason early in the frame to make it 4-1 heading into the third. Braeden Tuck got Trail to within two with a goal 3:15 into the period, but Vipers goalie Aidan Porter shut the door the rest of the way, making 17 saves in total, and Latta buried his second of the game into an empty net in the final minute to make it a 5-2 final.

Williamson added a helper to his goal and was named first star of the game. Vernon will head out onto the road to take on the Wenatchee Wild to start Round 3.



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