Contributed by Jesse Adamson for BCHL Communications
Tonight – Prince George Spruce Kings (31-17-4-4) at Chilliwack Chiefs (26-25-3-3)
7 p.m. at Prospera Centre in Chilliwack
Presented by the BCIHL
Chilliwack leads the season series 6-0-0-1. The teams played a back-to-back in Prince George on the first weekend of the season. On Sept. 8 they played to a 5-5 tie. Chilliwack was led offensively by Will Calverley who scored a hat trick and added an assist, while the Spruce Kings got a pair of goals from Patrick Cozzi. The following night Prince George got multi-point efforts from five different players en route to a convincing 8-2 win. The next matchup came on Oct. 27 where the Spruce Kings got a pair of goals from Ben Brar and Evan DeBrouwer made 29 saves for the shutout in a 3-0 road win.
On Jan. 28 in Chilliwack, the Spruce Kings got three goals from Dustin Manz and beat the Chiefs 5-1. The teams played another back-to-back in Prince George starting Feb. 2 where the home team jumped out to a 3-0 lead and held on for a 3-2 win. The next night was another close game that went into overtime tied at three when Ben Poisson scored the winner 23 seconds into the fourth period to give Prince George the win. In the most recent meeting between the teams last night in Chilliwack, the Spruce Kings got a late third-period goal from Manz to give his team a 2-1 win.
Prince George’s Ben Poisson has points in his last 11 games played, but has missed the last four. He has eight goals and seven assists over that stretch. His streak is tied for the fifth longest in the BCHL this year. Spruce Kings forward Ethan de Jong is tied for ninth in league scoring with 63 points (17-46-63) in 50 games, but he will be resting tonight, according to head coach Adam Maglio, since Prince George has already clinched first place in the Mainland Division. The team’s second-leading scorer is Ben Brar with 54 points (25-29-54) in 56 games. Spruce Kings goaltender Evan DeBrouwer ranks second in the BCHL with 26 wins, fourth in the league with a goals-against average of 2.24, sixth in save percentage at .920 and tied for second with three shutouts while playing the most minutes in the league. DeBrouwer will also get a rest tonight according Maglio.
Will Calverley leads the Chiefs in scoring with 46 points (18-28-46) in 54 games. He’s also tied with teammate Tommy Lee for the team-lead with 18 goals. Lee is the team’s second-leading scorer with 41 points in 54 games. Bryan Allbee leads the team in points from the blueline with 31 (8-23-31) in 52 games, which is good enough for fourth overall on the Chiefs. Chilliwack goalie Mathieu Caron has a record of 18-11-0-1, with a goals against average of 2.71 and one shutout.
What’s at Stake
Prince George beat Chilliwack last night 2-1 to stretch their unbeaten streak against the Chiefs to seven games. The Spruce Kings have clinched first place in the Mainland Division and if the standings stay the same, they would matchup against Chilliwack in the first round.
The Chiefs are in fourth place in the Mainland Division, but have a chance to catch the third-place Surrey Eagles who are one point ahead but have a game in hand. If Chilliwack catches Surrey for third place they will play the Langley Rivermen in the first round.
Chilliwack Chiefs head coach Jason Tatarnic on last night’s 2-1 loss to Prince George:
“I thought we controlled the majority of the play, we played really well. Unfortunately, their goaltender played real well and we couldn’t score. I thought we deserved a better fate.”
Tatarnic on tonight’s matchup:
“We’ve seen them quite a bit this month…They’re a good hockey team, they’re very structured…[We need to] play the same way we did last night…We just have to find the back of the net a little more.”
Tatarnic on his team’s struggles against Prince George this season:
“We’ve had opportunities where we’ve outplayed them, we just couldn’t get that go-ahead goal and they did. I think the difference right now is to find that extra goal.”
Tatarnic on the importance of getting a win against the Spruce Kings with a potential playoff matchup next week:
“I don’t think it’s a must…I feel pretty good with our game. We’re not going to panic because we didn’t get the result last night. Our focus is just on playing well and we’ll see where we end up at the end of the year.”
Prince George head coach Adam Maglio on last night’s 2-1 win over Chilliwack:
“I don’t think we necessarily had one of our best games start to finish. I thought we picked up our game a little bit as it went for sure…We certainly need a better start in tonight’s game.”
Maglio on tonight’s matchup:
“They’ve got some high-end skill and some high-end players. Last night they worked extremely hard, they came out of the gates hard too. They’re a fast team. They’re a team you have to keep in front of you, if you let them get behind you, they’re a pretty quick transition team that can create a lot of offence.
“We just have to clean up a little bit of execution within our systems and details. We need to start to get a few more pucks behind their D and hang on to pucks in their zone a little bit longer. I thought we gave up the puck too easy last night and it resulted in a lot of D-zone time for us…We’ve got to be a little heavier on the walls and our one-on-one compete has got to increase tonight.”
Maglio on his team’s success against the Chiefs this season:
“I think our guys get up for the Chilliwack games. I think them being the RBC host team, our guys kind of rise to the occasion. Our guys like challenges, they thrive in that environment. Chilliwack’s a good team. I don’t think there’s any secret formula for why we’ve had success. We’ve been able to bring a lot of energy, we’ve been able to be resilient in games with them.”
Maglio on the importance of winning tonight and finishing the season unbeaten against Chilliwack heading into a potential first-round playoff matchup:
“I think it’s important, but in saying that, we’re missing some guys tonight for various reasons. We’d like to get the win tonight, that’s our goal, but we’re certainly going to be careful about the players going in tonight in regards to their rest and their readiness for that first round…Within our year, our matchup with Chilliwack favours us right now and playing them in the first round might not be a bad thing for us, but at the end of the day we’re going to compete hard tonight and see where the chips fall.”
ABOUT THE BCIHL
The British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League was created with the purpose of offering a venue for competitive, high-calibre hockey that’s close to home for players beyond their junior careers. The league was launched in 2006 and now includes six member teams: Eastern Washington University, Selkirk College, Simon Fraser University, Trinity Western University, the University of Victoria and Vancouver Island University. This season, 25 graduates with over 2750 games of BCHL experience are pursuing their academic and athletic goals in the BCIHL. To learn more about the BCIHL and playing opportunities for BCHL grads, visit BCIHL.ca.