Tonight – Prince George Spruce Kings (18-7-1-1) vs. Chilliwack Chiefs (20-8-0-0)
7 p.m. at Prospera Centre in Chilliwack
Presented by the BCIHL
The two teams played a back-to-back in Prince George on the opening weekend of the season with the Spruce Kings taking both contests. On Sept. 7, Ben Poisson had three helpers and his brother Nicholas Poisson had a goal and an assist to lead PG to a 5-1 win. The following night, Sam Kozlowski broke a scoreless tie early in the third period and Ben Brar scored the eventual game-winner with just over five minutes to play and the Spruce Kings skated to a 2-1 victory.
Last year, the teams played in the first round of the Fred Page Cup playoffs and the Spruce Kings won in seven games in a tightly-contested series
Spruce Kings captain Ben Poisson has points in five straight games, tallying four goals and two assists over that stretch. Ben Brar leads Prince George in scoring with 29 points in 27 games and is tied for third in the BCHL in goals with 18. Spruce Kings goalie Logan Neaton leads the league with a 1.93 goals-against average and owns the sixth-highest save percentage at .913. He has a 15-3-0 record and one shutout.
Chilliwack forward Kevin Wall is the BCHL’s leading scorer with 41 points and also leads the league in goals with 21. His teammate Harrison Blaisdell is fifth in league scoring with 35 points and is tied for third in goals with 18. Matt Holmes is also in the top-20 in scoring with 31 points (11 goals, 20 assists) in 26 games. Chiefs goalie Mathieu Caron has the fifth-best save percentage in the BCHL at .914 and the seventh-best goals-against average at 2.71. He also leads the league in wins with 18 and has one shutout on the year, while playing the most minutes in the league.
What’s at Stake
Chilliwack is in first place in the Mainland Division and the overall standings with 40 points. Prince George is only two points behind at 38 points and can pull into a tie with a regulation win tonight.
The Coquitlam Express are in third place in the division and sit nine points back of the lead.
From the Broadcast Booth
Chilliwack Chiefs play-by-play broadcaster Vanni DeBartolo on BCHL leading scorer Kevin Wall:
“He’s a special player who possesses a high-quality hockey IQ. He’s mature for his age and sees the ice extremely well. His skill set with the puck makes him a dangerous threat in the attacking zone and he always seems to make the right plays for his line mates.”
DeBartolo on the makeup of the Chiefs roster this year:
“The coaching staff have built an extremely exciting, young and fast team this year. It’s certainly been a treat to watch and call the games. The character of the whole team really shines through the entire roster. I’ve really liked the play of first-year players Carter Wilkie, Brett Willits, Matt Holmes, Brett Rylance and Cole Donhauser.”
DeBartolo on tonight’s matchup:
“PG is definitely one of the oldest teams in the league with a boat load of returning players. Both clubs are coached extremely well. It’s definitely going to be a huge weekend for both teams as they battle for top spot in the division. I’ll be interested to see how the Spruce Kings defensive style plays out against the high-octane Chiefs attack.
Prince George Spruce Kings play-by-play broadcaster Brendan Pawliw on the previous matchup between the two teams on the opening weekend of the season:
“Chilliwack was a different team the opening week of the season and that couldn’t be more evident than the record they have right now. Kevin Wall has been fantastic for them and he will be tough to stop. The Spruce Kings will need to bring their A-game if they wish to be in first place after the weekend.”
Pawliw on the rivalry between the two teams after last year’s seven-game playoff series:
“It was pretty intense last year and was a pretty crazy game seven in PG and something I won’t forget for a long time. Chilliwack should be hungry as they did not beat the Spruce Kings in the regular season last year.”
Pawliw on Spruce Kings captain Ben Poisson:
“He is such a well-balanced player. He’s big and strong and can shoot the puck with the best of them and he’s a very composed captain whenever I talk to him post game. He can beat you in so many ways. It’s pretty remarkable the team played most of last year’s playoffs without him and still came within three wins of capturing the Fred Page Cup.”
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 five member teams: 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.