Photo credit: Garrett James Photography
Prince George Spruce Kings – 3
Cranbrook Bucks – 2
The Prince George Spruce Kings staged a dramatic comeback late in the third period on the strength of goals from Nick Rhéaume and Simon Labelle to propel them to a 3-2 win over the Cranbrook Bucks and an identical 3-2 series lead.
The Spruce Kings opened the scoring 1:19 into the second period on Luc Laylin’s fifth goal of the postseason, which ties him for the league lead. The Bucks responded with two goals of their own late in the period, coming from Tyson Dyck and Kellan Hjartarson, and they led 2-1 at the second intermission. It looked like that score would hold up, until PG got a man advantage with under five minutes to go. The Spruce Kings struck just seven seconds into the power play on Rhéaume’s goal and won it under three minutes later with Labelle playing hero.
Spruce Kings goalie Aaron Trotter had a solid night in net, stopping 20 of the 22 shots he faced, but Cranbrook’s Nathan Airey was the far busier goalie and he stopped 35 of 38 shots.
The Bucks will look to bounce back in Game 6 on Saturday and force a deciding seventh game.
Chilliwack Chiefs – 3
Coquitlam Express – 0
Mateo Mrsic scored twice and Grant Riley made 23 saves to earn the shutout as the Chilliwack Chiefs blanked the Coquitlam Express 3-0 in Game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead. After a scoreless first period, Mrsic finally got the game’s first goal late in the second period and added his second midway through the third. Kienan Draper sealed the game with an empty-net goal with 11 seconds remaining to make it 3-0. Fresh off a 53-save performance in Game 4, Coquitlam’s Carter Woodside made 27 saves in the loss. Chilliwack has a chance to end the series on Saturday back in Coquitlam in Game 6.
Penticton Vees – 5
Trail Smoke Eaters – 1
Bradley Nadeau had a goal and an assist and Kaeden Lane stopped 26 of 27 shots as the Penticton Vees got goals from five different players en route to a 5-1 win over the Trail Smoke Eaters to win the series and advance to Round 2. Vees forward Adam Eisele also had a multi-point performance, chipping in with a pair of assists in the game. Teddy Lagerback had the lone goal for trail in a losing effort. Penticton is the first team in the Interior Conference to move on to the second round and will await their next opponent.