By Jesse Adamson for BCHL Communications
Tonight – Prince George Spruce Kings (30-15-4-4) at Surrey Eagles (24-21-6-2)
7 p.m. at South Surrey Arena in Surrey
Presented by the BCIHL
Surrey leads the season series between the two division rivals 4-3. The previous seven meetings between the teams all came in the first two months of the season, with the home team winning six of the seven games. Prince George swept a back-to-back at home on Sept. 15 and 16 by scores of 5-0 and 4-1. The teams met again on Sept. 29 in Surrey where the Eagles got their first win over the Spruce Kings by a score of 4-1.
The teams split another back-to-back in Prince George on Oct. 6 and 7. Surrey won the first game when John Wesley scored 1:45 into overtime to give his team the win. Prince George responded with a win the following night after Layton Ahac scored a late third-period goal to put the Spruce Kings up for good. The teams played for the third time in a week on Oct. 13 in Surrey where the Eagles survived a late Prince George rally to hold on for a 4-3 win. In the most recent matchup on Oct. 29 Surrey won again at home by a score of 4-2.
Prince George’s Ben Poisson is on an 11-game point streak, which is tied for the fourth-longest in the league this year. He has eight goals and seven assists for 15 points over that stretch. His teammate Ethan de Jong has points in 10 straight games, with four goals, 16 assists and 20 points in that span. Spruce Kings forward Blake Hawyard comes into tonight riding a five-game point streak with five goals and one assist in those games. de Jong is tied for sixth in BCHL scoring with 62 points (17-45-62) in 47 games. Ben Brar is tied for 16th in league scoring with 52 points (24-28-52) in 53 games. Poisson is the team’s third-leading scorer with 51 points (22-29-51) in 52 games. Spruce Kings goaltender Evan DeBrouwer is tied for the BCHL lead in wins with 25, ranks third in goals-against average at 2.20, fourth in save percentage at .921 and tied for second in shutouts with three, while playing the most minutes in the league.
Surrey’s Ty Westgard is tied for third in BCHL scoring with 64 points in 51 games and is second in the league with 50 assists. His teammate John Wesley is tied for sixth in league scoring with 62 points in 51 games and is tied for the league lead in goal scoring with 35. The team’s third-leading scorer is Desi Burgart who has 45 points (21-24-45) in 48 games. Owen Norton leads the Eagles in points from the blueline with 29 (4-25-29) in 53 games. Surrey goaltender Mario Cavaliere is tied for second in the league with three shutouts in his nine BCHL appearances this season.
What’s at Stake
Surrey comes into tonight on a seven-game losing streak and is in a three-way tie with the Chilliwack Chiefs and Langley Rivermen for second place in the Mainland Division. The three teams have 56 points each and the Chiefs have one game in hand. The team that finishes in second place will get home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Prince George has won seven straight games and has a chance to clinch the Mainland Division with a win tonight. They sit in first place with 68 points with five games to go. This game could be a possible first-round playoff preview if the Eagles finish fourth and the Spruce Kings clinch first place.
Surrey Eagles head coach Brandon West on tonight’s matchup against Prince George:
“We haven’t seen them for a real long time, so we’re trying to focus on our game right now. We have an idea that they’re going to be fast and they’re going to be a high-octane offence that we’re going to have to defend well against. They’re an exciting team to watch. They’ve done a great job this year.
“Both teams are going to play with a lot of pace, so we have to come out with a good start and be willing to play 60 minutes of fast-paced hockey and give ourselves a chance to win.”
West on the importance of finishing second in the division and getting home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs:
“We’re not focusing on the standings right now, we’re focusing on getting our game in better shape. We’re sick and we’ve had a ton of injuries here, so we need to make sure that we’re placing guys in some different positions to succeed and we want to focus on our game and worry about the process and not the end result right now.”
West on his team’s current seven-game losing streak:
“I think [injuries have] been a factor, but I also think that we’ve not played our best in that stretch. Our last three games we’ve played really well, we’ve just been a day late and a dollar short. Credit to our opponents, they’ve been real good too. We’re all fighting for position right now. We’ve had some division games and our opponents, Langley and Chilliwack, have played outstanding against us. Full credit to those guys.
Prince George Spruce Kings head coach Adam Maglio on tonight’s matchup against Surrey:
“They have two really good players in [John] Wesley and [Ty] Westgard, who I think are a big part of their team most nights. When they have success, they’re on the scoresheet. We certainly have to be aware when those two are on the ice…They’re a good team that we have to be ready for.
“We haven’t had a ton of success this year in their rink. The focus for us is just worrying about our game. I think we worry too much about the different-sized ice in Surrey and worry maybe a little bit too much about what they’re doing…We’ve been playing well of late, so developing some momentum from that [is important] and continuing to improve on our good play of late.”
Maglio on his team’s success in the second half of the season, including a current seven-game winning streak:
“I think we’ve been getting contributions from everyone. Our goaltending has obviously been quite good, Evan [DeBrouwer] has been really good every start he gets. [Early in the season] we were struggling to score goals, but we defend pretty well and that hung us in there for a while…Now we’re starting to get contributions from more guys on the scoresheet, so I think that’s helped with team confidence.”
Maglio on this game being a potential first-round playoff preview:
“You certainly want to play your divisional opponents hard no matter what point of the year it is…It’s our last meeting with them, so I think [a win tonight] would be helpful if we did matchup against them to get some momentum from this last game.”
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.