Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Game 7 - at Williams Lake Timberwolves

Of note ...
Due to some technical difficulties with the internet at the Cariboo Community Complex, a more detailed summary was not available at the time of the game. Look for a better write of the game later today including information on a possible suspension to one Spruce King.

Third Period Summary ...
No scoring in the third, but plenty of other action as Jeremy Wiebe, Josh Pineiro and Luke Hannas all get served with early departure notices for some extra-curricular activities. Just imagine ... these two teams meet again same place, same time on Saturday night! Could be interesting.

Second Period Summary ...
A pair of power play goals and a pair of even strenght goals has the Spruce Kings up 6-0 after forty minutes.

First Period Summary ...
Spruce Kings lead 2-0 after twenty minutes.

Game Preview ...
The Spruce Kings find themselves in Williams Lake for the back half of their home-and-home with the Timberwolves. On Friday night the Spruce Kings came away with a 6-3 home ice victory and sent the T'Wolves on the road where they came up empty on the next two nights as well. Meanwhile the Spruce Kings got to enjoy their win and plan on finding another two points again tonight, but it won't be easy as the hosts aren't likely to have forgotten Friday night.

Two points tonight for Prince George will see the Spruce Kings leap over the Quesnel Millionaires into fifth place in the Interior Division just two points back of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks and fourth. The Timberwolves have the eyes set on pulling even with their visitors however, as they find themselves with only one win on the young season.

Back to Friday night in the Castle when the Spruce Kings opened up a 4-1 lead on the Timberwolves on the strength of two goals by Sam Muchalla less than two minutes apart. That night saw the Spruce Kings short-handed with five injuries limiting the available bodies to just eighteen. The shortened bench may have been the ticket that the top line was looking for to jump into the scoring leaders race.

Muchalla jumped into the top 15 with his five point performance (2 goals and 3 assists) as did Brooks Robinson with his four assist performance. Joe Morgan contributed on the top line as well, being the play maker and agitator and getting into the dirty areas. Another Spruce King with big numbers on the night was Wes McLeod who scored two of his own and added an assist to sit third among the Spruce Kings scoring leaders with nine points.

Speaking of Wes, he will be back in the lineup for his birthday after skating at the Team Canada West Evaluaion Camp in Okotoks Alberta. The camp was all about identify the next roster to represent Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge. Talking with Wes after the event he told me that the camp was high tempoed and fast paced with high calibre players demonstrating their skills for the Team Canada West management team. Wes scored in the final game and is very happy with his performance overall and will now await the decision as to whether or not he will be filling one of the five 19 year old spots on the team.

During the second intermission of tonight's game, I will have an interview with Wes McLeod to talk about the experience and a few other things. The game will be broadcast on 93.1 CFIS-FM and also available online from the CFIS-FM Listen Live link on the Spruce Kings website. If you have questions or comments, feel free to send me a comment from this post and I will get it and respond from my BlackBerry.

Rosters ...

Williams Lake Timberwolves

1 Kirk Croswell (G 5'11" 175 9/23/1990)
3 Michael Jorgensen (D 6'00" 180 3/2/1992)
4 Darren Tarasoff (D 6'01" 195 3/10/1990)
5 Colin Wandfluh (D 5'11" 180 8/8/1990)
6 Riley Sweeney (D 5'11" 185 8/31/1992)
7 Calvin Johnson (F 5'10" 165 5/28/1992)
8 Dane Rupert (F 5'08" 170 4/16/1991)
9 Josh MacDonald (F 6'00" 180 5/6/1990)
11 Ryan Stanimir (F 6'00" 175 3/4/1990)
12 Craig Eisenhut (F 5'11" 190 5/19/1990)
13 Laine Keyes (F 5'09" 170 4/13/1990)
14 Kyle Leung (F 5'07" 165 3/5/1990)
16 Anthony DeLong (F 6'00" 165 2/8/1991)
17 Cody Abbey (F 6'01" 200 1/10/1991)
19 Keagan Little (F 6'00" 170 10/3/1989)
21 Keenan Bailey (F 6'00" 175 2/10/1991)
22 Justin Bardarson (F 5'10" 190 6/6/1990)
23 Trent Murdoch (F 5'11" 155 7/31/1991)
24 Jake Harcoff (D 5'10" 185 10/17/1990)
26 Josh Garneau (D 5'09" 175 5/4/1991)
27 Jason Diehl (F 6'02" 195 7/24/1989)
28 Kyle Beaulieu (D 6'03" 195 1/16/1991)
55 Evan Dauenhauer (G 5'11" 175 12/19/1989)


Prince George Spruce Kings

1 Alex Wright (G 6'01" 185 4/20/1990)
3 Wes McLeod (D 6'02" 185 9/30/1990)
4 Clayton McEwan (D 6'00" 180 11/26/1991)
5 Justin Fillion (D 5'11" 175 4/23/1990)
7 Jesse Scrimbit (D 6'01" 180 12/19/1990)
8 Jonathan Gibson (D 6'01" 205 2/1/1990)
9 Nick DeSousa (F 6'00" 180 11/13/1990)
10 Andrew Pickering (F 5'10" 175 6/2/1989)
11 Kyle Manlow (F 5'10" 165 6/28/1991)
12 Joe Becker (F 5'10" 180 1/29/1990)
15 Luke Hannas (F 6'02" 185 9/9/1991)
16 Jeff Earnest (F 5'10" 175 2/8/1991)
17 Brooks Robinson (F 5'11" 180 8/18/1989)
18 Colten Derickson (F 6'00" 200 11/15/1989)
19 Joe Morgan (F 5'08" 180 4/7/1989)
20 Jeff Datoff (D 5'10" 160 5/26/1992)
21 Stewart Lambert (F 6'00" 175 4/5/1990)
22 Jeremy Wiebe (F 6'00" 180 7/20/1991)
23 RJay Berra (F 6'00" 180 7/26/1990)
24 Josh Pineiro (D 5'10" 211 8/25/1989)
25 Zac Rasmussen (F 5'09" 178 5/8/1989)
26 Sam Muchalla (F 5'08" 150 8/14/1990)
35 Kyle Nielsen (G 5'10" 170 7/21/1990)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Game 6 - vs Williams Lake Timberwolves

Third Period Summary ... After the Spruce Kings made it a 6-1 game, the foot may have come off the gas pedal a little bit, or the short bench may have caught as the Williams Lake Timberwolves score a powerplay goal and shorthanded marker to make the game respectable and cut the Spruce Kings lead in half. Spruce Kings were outshot on the night 30-25 by a team that did not want to quit, but their nemisis was the top line of Sam Muchalla, Brooks Robinson and Joe Morgan. The top line will finish with two goals, eight assists and an unofficial plus minus total of plus twelve for those three alone.

Three stars tonight were a tough choice with so many players stepping up their play tonight to give the home town fans their first home victory of the season. Final star selections went Sam Muchalla (first), Brooks Robinson (second) and Ryan Stanimir as the third star from the Williams Lake Timberwolves. Joe Morgan could have been a star as so could have Wes McLeod, Justin Fillion and Josh Pineiro from the blue line.

The Spruce Kings will now lick a few of their wounds and hopefully get a couple of the players into the lineup for Wednesday night's rematch in the puddle. You can listen to the game on 93.1 CFIS-FM and from the CFIS-FM Listen Live link on the Spruce Kings website. Game starts at 7:30 from the Cariboo Community Complex in Williams Lake.

Second Period Summary ... Okay first of all, the injury update ... there is no update ... the player that gave me suspicions played his shifts in the second period. It appears that the sleeping giant has awoken and the top line is firing on all cylinders tonight. Portions of the top line have figured predominately in all four goals scored by Prince George ... yes four, and the two in the second period have both come off the stick of Sam Muchalla. Brooks Robinson and Joe Morgan have also been contributing as have a few key defenceman. Josh Pineiro sprung Sam Muchalla in on a breakaway that the captain used to put on some moves to score his first of the season. His second came less than two minutes later as Sam found himself at the right spot at the right time and fired a quick bullet past Kirk Croswell.

Williams Lake leads by three on the shot clock, but the Spruce Kings lead by three on the score clock ... score after two is 4-1.

First Period Summary ... Spruce Kings open the scoring with a nice shot from Justin Fillion. Moments later another defenceman, Wes McLeod scores his second of the season to make it a 2-0 game. The Timberwolves did cut the lead in half with a goal mouth scramble. Shots on goal are even at nine apiece, but Prince George leads in the stat that matters ... 2-1 after twenty. Spruce Kings are playing with a shortened bench, five players are out with injuries and possibly one more in the first period ... will update when I have specific details.

Game Preview ... Spruce Kings will be in tough against their Interior Division rival the Williams Lake Timberwolves tonigh if for no other reason than shear man power alone. Potentially there are five injury related scratches for tonight's game, one will be a game time decision, but that does leave the home team with a shorter bench than they would like.

Rosters ...

Williams Lake Timberwolves

1 Kirk Croswell (G 5'11" 175 9/23/1990)
3 Eric Wentzel (F 5'10" 190 2/7/1990)
4 Darren Tarasoff (D 6'01" 195 3/10/1990)
5 Colin Wandfluh (D 5'11" 180 8/8/1990)
6 Riley Sweeney (D 5'11" 185 8/31/1992)
7 Calvin Johnson (F 5'10" 165 5/28/1992)
8 Dane Rupert (F 5'08" 170 4/16/1991)
9 Josh MacDonald (F 6'00" 180 5/6/1990)
11 Ryan Stanimir (F 6'00" 175 3/4/1990)
12 Craig Eisenhut (F 5'11" 190 5/19/1990)
13 Laine Keyes (F 5'09" 170 4/13/1990)
14 Kyle Leung (F 5'07" 165 3/5/1990)
16 Anthony DeLong (F 6'00" 165 2/8/1991)
17 Cody Abbey (F 6'01" 200 1/10/1991)
19 Keagan Little (F 6'00" 170 10/3/1989)
20 Manny Haider (D 6'03" 180 4/6/1990)
21 Keenan Bailey (F 6'00" 175 2/10/1991)
22 Justin Bardarson (F 5'10" 190 6/6/1990)
23 Trent Murdoch (F 5'11" 155 7/31/1991)
24 Jake Harcoff (D 5'10" 185 10/17/1990)
26 Josh Garneau (D 5'09" 175 5/4/1991)
27 Jake Diehl (F 6'02" 195 7/24/1989)
28 Kyle Beaulieu (D 6'03" 195 1/16/1991)
55 Evan Dauenhauer (G 5'11" 175 12/19/1989)


Prince George Spruce Kings

1 Alex Wright (G 6'01" 185 4/20/1990)
3 Wes McLeod (D 6'02" 185 9/30/1990)
4 Clayton McEwan (D 6'00" 180 11/26/1991)
5 Justin Fillion (D 5'11" 175 4/23/1990)
7 Jesse Scrimbit (D 6'01" 180 12/19/1990)
8 Jonathan Gibson (D 6'01" 205 2/1/1990)
9 Nick DeSousa (F 6'00" 180 11/13/1990)
10 Andrew Pickering (F 5'10" 175 6/2/1989)
11 Kyle Manlow (F 5'10" 165 6/28/1991)
12 Joe Becker (F 5'10" 180 1/29/1990)
15 Luke Hannas (F 6'02" 185 9/9/1991)
16 Jeff Earnest (F 5'10" 175 2/8/1991)
17 Brooks Robinson (F 5'11" 180 8/18/1989)
18 Colten Derickson (F 6'00" 200 11/15/1989)
19 Joe Morgan (F 5'08" 180 4/7/1989)
20 Jeff Datoff (D 5'10" 160 5/26/1992)
21 Stewart Lambert (F 6'00" 175 4/5/1990)
22 Jeremy Wiebe (F 6'00" 180 7/20/1991)
23 RJay Berra (F 6'00" 180 7/26/1990)
24 Josh Pineiro (D 5'10" 211 8/25/1989)
25 Zac Rasmussen (F 5'09" 178 5/8/1989)
26 Sam Muchalla (F 5'08" 150 8/14/1990)
35 Kyle Nielsen (G 5'10" 170 7/21/1990)

R - Korey Martens
L - Bill Hudyma
L - Wyatt Burt

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wes McLeod Selected to Team Canada West Evaluation Camp

PRINCE GEORGE, BC - The Prince George Spruce Kings are excited and honoured with the selection of defenceman Wes McLeod to the Team Canada West Evaluation Camp in advance of this year's World Junior 'A' Challenge. Wes is one of thirteen players to represent the British Columbia Hockey League and one of the forty invited to the camp from the five western Junior 'A' leagues.

The Evaluation Camp will run from September 27th to the 29th with practices and game scrimmages at the Centennial Arena in Okotoks, Alberta. From there the final roster will be determined to represent Team Canada West at the annual World Junior 'A' Challenge being held in Summerside, PEI beginning November 1, 2009.

"The Prince George Spruce Kings would like to congratulate Wes on his selection to Team Canada West," stated Spruce Kings Assistant General Manager and Director of Player Personnel, Mike Hawes. "Wes is an extremely dedicated player and will represent the Spruce Kings and the BCHL with a style of play that has drawn the attention of many scouts."

In five games to start the season, the committed defenceman to the University of Alaska Anchorage sits atop team scoring with 1 goal and 5 assists. Wes will suit up for the Spruce Kings on Friday night for their game against the Williams Lake Timberwolves before heading out for the Evaluation Camp. Following two days of practices and games, Wes is expected to return to the Spruce Kings in time for the second half of the home-and-home with the Timberwolves Wednesday night.

Wes will practice and play on Team Red at the Evaluation Camp along with Sean Bonar (G), Garrett Milan (F) and Joey Laleggia (D) of the Penticton Vees as well as Curtis Gedig (D) of the Cowichan Valley Capitals and Madison Dias (F) of the Victoria Grizzlies. Team White will include Kirby Halcrow (G) of the Quesnel Millionaires, Travis Statchuk (F) of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, Mat Bodie (D) of the Powell River Kings, Grayson Downing (F) and Cam Reid both of the Westside Warriors as well as Kellen and Connor Jones (F) from the Vernon Vipers.

Click on TEAM RED and TEAM WHITE to view the two complete rosters.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Game 5 - vs Salmon Arm Silverbacks

Game Preview - After a rare Saturday night off, the Spruce Kings find themselves rested following a Friday night shutout victory over the Merritt Centennials and ready to take on an opponent that has posted two back to back wins already this weekend. On Friday night the Salmon Arm Silverbacks were in Williams Lake where they took two points away from the Timberwolves with a convincing 9-5 victory.

Salmon Arm had a big second period scoring six times including a penalty shot goal, a power play goal, a short handed goal and three even strength goals scored less than two minutes apart. There werer a total of seventeen powerplays and perhaps surprisingly it was the Timberwolves that had twelve man advantage situations. The Silverbacks were lethal with their five opportunities with the extra man registering three power play goals. In all of the goal scoring, only two Silverbacks scored more than once in the game with Mark Zengerle and Greg Noyes picking up a pair each.

On the same night the Spruce Kings were rewarded for their continued hard work with a 2-0 shutout win. Justin Fillion opened the scoring on a big of lucky bounce when the pucked hopped over Brooks Robinson's stick and came out to the high slot. Thinking shot from the edge of the faceoff circle, Cole Holowenko committed to the hard shot and found himself out of position for the resulting shot from Fillion.

The score stayed at 1-0 until late in the third period when Joe Morgan found himself sprung along the left wall with only one defender to beat. Morgan found not one but two extra gears in his stride and was able to beat the Merritt Centennials defenceman in front of his own bench and then went hard across the face of the net. When Holowenko was forced to open up to stay with the speedy Morgan, Joe just slipped the puck through the five hole.

The goal immediately changed the whole mood of the game as the Spruce Kings gained their confidence back and brought out frustration in the Merritt Centennials that was exemplified by a questionable hit on Clayton McEwan. The hit delivered by Silvan Harper was the second of two in a row by the rookie forward and was immediately addressed by Luke Hannas who came to the aid of his team mate. The Spruce Kings rookie did get assessed a five minute major that the Spruce Kings were able to kill off.

On Saturday night the Spruce Kings only practiced as they had a rare Saturday night off from the game, the Silverbacks on the other hand were in tough in Quesnel. The Millionaires established a 2-0 lead on the 'backs only to see that evaporate into a 2-2 regulation time time resulting in overtime. The comeback was completed in the extra frame with a goal setup by Mark Zengerle to a rookie on the Silverbacks squad, Corey Chakeen.

So the question is: "does rest or adrenaline prevail?" and that question will be answered with a matinee game today at the Coliseum. Faceoff is at 3:00pm with the game audio available on 93.1 CFIS-FM and also on the Spruce Kings website. For one of the very first times in my time with the Spruce Kings, I will not be at the game as I became a victim of a cancelled flight out of Vancouver this morning. I will be watching the pay-per-view feed instead from the BCHL website.

Rosters

Salmon Arm Silverbacks

4 Mike Puddifant (D 6'00" 192 6/27/1991)
5 Jayson Reardon (D 6'01" 200 6/24/1990)
8 Jagger Dirk (D 6'00" 170 5/4/1993)
9 Christopher Hoe (F 6'00" 175 1/30/1990)
10 Greg Noyes (D 6'01" 174 5/26/1990)
11 Charlie Vasaturo (D 6'03" 202 12/7/1990)
12 Tyler Gubb (F 6'02" 210 6/11/1989)
14 Justin Krabben (D 6'04" 182 6/30/1991)
15 Devon Roeszler (F 6'00" 175 4/12/1990)
16 Josh Manson (F 6'03" 190 10/7/1991)
17 Brett Knowles (F 5'11" 180 4/25/1991)
18 Rick Soo (F 5'11" 177 3/15/1991)
19 David Killip (F 5'10" 155 3/31/1991)
20 Devin Gannon (F 6'00" 185 10/31/1991)
22 Bobby Lipsett (F 6'00" 197 3/27/1989)
28 Josh Monk (D 5'11" 190 4/5/1992)
29 Kurt Williams (G 5'10" 167 11/15/1991)
41 Tony Ierfino (G 6'01" 190 2/11/1989)
88 Mark Zengerle (F 5'11" 178 5/12/1989)
91 Travis Statchuk (F 5'10" 175 3/31/1990)
94 Corey Chakeen (F 5'11" 182 7/18/1989)
98 Matt Cassidy (F 5'10" 180 2/23/1990)


Prince George Spruce Kings

1 Alex Wright (G 6'01" 185 4/20/1990)
3 Wes McLeod (D 6'02" 185 9/30/1990)
4 Clayton McEwan (D 6'00" 180 11/26/1991)
5 Justin Fillion (D 5'11" 175 4/23/1990)
7 Jesse Scrimbit (D 6'01" 180 12/19/1990)
8 Jonathan Gibson (D 6'01" 205 2/1/1990)
9 Nick DeSousa (F 6'00" 180 11/13/1990)
10 Andrew Pickering (F 5'10" 175 6/2/1989)
11 Kyle Manlow (F 5'10" 165 6/28/1991)
12 Joe Becker (F 5'10" 180 1/29/1990)
15 Luke Hannas (F 6'02" 185 9/9/1991)
17 Brooks Robinson (F 5'11" 180 8/18/1989)
18 Colten Derickson (F 6'00" 200 11/15/1989)
19 Joe Morgan (F 5'08" 180 4/7/1989)
20 Jeff Datoff (D 5'10" 160 5/26/1992)
21 Stewart Lambert (F 6'00" 175 4/5/1990)
22 Jeremy Wiebe (F 6'00" 180 7/20/1991)
23 RJay Berra (F 6'00" 180 7/26/1990)
25 Zac Rasmussen (F 5'09" 178 5/8/1989)
35 Kyle Nielsen (G 5'10" 170 7/21/1990)


Officials

R -
L -
L -

Friday, September 18, 2009

Game 4 - at Merritt Centennials

Game Preview - The Spruce Kings continue to look for their first win of the season, this time they will try against the Merritt Centennials. The Spruce Kings have added some new weapons with the return of Alex Wright in goal from the Spokane Chiefs. Yesterday the team also picked up free agent netminder Kyle Nielson who had been released outright by the Merritt Centennials. In a second deal executed on Thursday, the Spruce Kings acquired 20 year forward Zac Rasmussen from the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in exchange for futures.

Alex Wright has already had a chance to stretch his legs with the Spruce Kings in Wednesday night's 4-1 loss to the Quesnel Millionaires. Alex was not impressed with his play or the end result for the team and has mentioned a few times how much he wants a win right away. With the arrival of Kyle Nielsen, the Spruce Kings find themselves with a pair of 19 year goaltenders, both of which could start any game this season.

The arrival of Wright inevitably pushed out Tim Zweirs who was reassigned to the Kamloops Storm of the KIJHL. The return of Wright also created some competition for the starting position between the 19 year old Alex Wright and 20 year old Evan Smith. After a pair of tough outings on the opening weekend, the Spruce Kings struck a deal with the Humboltd Broncos that gave the SJHL team Evan's rights in exchange for future considerations.

That cleared up a roster spot for Kyle and also provided a hole for an overager that turned into Zac Rasmussen. The addition of Zac is one that has the potential to reap rewards immediately and throughout the season. The Spruce Kings are in need of some offensive punch with Sam Muchalla and Jeff Earnest still out of the lineup as they serve the second of two game suspensions. The two forwards and defenceman Josh Pineiro picked up two game suspensions each as a result of a multiple fight situation against the Penticton Vees Saturday night.

Zac is looking forward to stepping in and filling that hole offensively with his fierce competitive play. Once the team has its full compliment of horses in the stable, the Spruce Kings could end up with two or even three lines that have agitators with a scoring touch causing containment concerns for the opposition.

The recent roster changes will be put to the test against an otherwise unknown squad in the Merritt Centennials. The Interior Division rivals knocked off the Trail Smoke Eaters in their one and only game played so far this season. After cutting Nielsen, the Centennials have opted to go with two rookie goaltenders between the pipes (UPDATE - and just today added a third goaltender with no previous experience). The rest of the Cents is your usual mix of returning and new players. Check below to see the starting rosters for both clubs.

Rosters

Merritt Centennials

1 Norbert Biszczak (G 6'01" 175 10/24/1990)
2 Matt Mazzarolo (D 6'03" 200 2/5/1990)
3 Jeff Zmurchyk (D 6'00" 175 1/6/1990)
4 Steve Tresierra (D 5'11" 180 4/17/1990)
7 Derek Hills (D 6'02" 205 12/5/1990)
8 Ryne Bodger (D 6'00" 180 11/2/1989)
9 Colton Sobchak (F 5'10" 175 5/11/1990)
10 Brad Bourke (D 6'01" 165 4/21/1991)
11 Jeff Jones (F 5'09" 175 12/29/1991)
12 Jordan Soquila (F 6'00" 194 10/14/1989)
14 Dustin Johnson (F 6'01" 190 4/5/1990)
15 Daniel Chang (F 5'11" 180 5/19/1991)
16 Alex Valenti (F 5'11" 185 8/29/1989)
17 David Sabey (F 6'03" 205 1/1/1991)
18 Kevin Philp (F 6'06" 230 2/4/1990)
19 Gary Rai (F 6'03" 190 2/7/1990)
21 Joey McEwan (F 5'11" 185 6/7/1989)
22 Stephen Wall (F 6'01" 190 5/31/1991)
24 Thomas Hardy (F 6'01" 175 12/21/1991)
26 Silvan Harper (F 5'10" 185 3/25/1992)
27 Jake Baker (D 6'03" 200 7/18/1991)
31 Spencer Bacon (G 6'04" 170 1/15/92)
35 Cole Holowenko (G 6'02" 190 1/5/1993)


Prince George Spruce Kings

1 Alex Wright (G 6'01" 185 4/20/1990)
3 Wes McLeod (D 6'02" 185 9/30/1990)
4 Clayton McEwan (D 6'00" 180 11/26/1991)
5 Justin Fillion (D 5'11" 175 4/23/1990)
7 Jesse Scrimbit (D 6'01" 180 12/19/1990)
8 Jonathan Gibson (D 6'01" 205 2/1/1990)
9 Nick DeSousa (F 6'00" 180 11/13/1990)
10 Andrew Pickering (F 5'10" 175 6/2/1989)
11 Kyle Manlow (F 5'10" 165 6/28/1991)
12 Joe Becker (F 5'10" 180 1/29/1990)
15 Luke Hannas (F 6'02" 185 9/9/1991)
16 Jeff Earnest (F 5'10" 175 2/8/1991)
17 Brooks Robinson (F 5'11" 180 8/18/1989)
18 Colten Derickson (F 6'00" 200 11/15/1989)
19 Joe Morgan (F 5'08" 180 4/7/1989)
20 Jeff Datoff (D 5'10" 160 5/26/1992)
21 Stewart Lambert (F 6'00" 175 4/5/1990)
22 Jeremy Wiebe (F 6'00" 180 7/20/1991)
23 RJay Berra (F 6'00" 180 7/26/1990)
24 Josh Pineiro (D 5'10" 211 8/25/1989)
25 Zac Rasmussen (F 5'09" 178 5/8/1989)
26 Sam Muchalla (F 5'08" 150 8/14/1990)
35 Kyle Nielsen (G 5'10" 170 7/21/1990)


Officials

R -
L -
L -

Thursday, September 17, 2009

New Faces

Two new players will be in the Spruce Kings lineup on Friday night after the team swung a deal for a 20 year old forward from Salmon Arm and then picked up a free agent goaltender. The moves should help the team up front and between the pipes.

Okay this one is a steal, I think, afterall this is a player that totally fits the ideal of a Spruce King player. Zac Rasmussen is a feisty player with an edge and no fear at times. I have seen him get under other player's skin and then go hard to the net looking to make something happen out of nothing. This is quite an addition to the Spruce Kings lineup and perhaps the game to watch what Zac can really do will happen on Sunday afternoon in the Coliseum when his new team faces off against his old team.

I like it!

Okay now Kyle Nielsen, here is a goaltender that has had some success in the past and was on the Vancouver NW Giants major midget team that went to the 2007 Telus Cup in Red Deer, Alberta. The following year Kyle played Junior B hockey with the Chase Chiefs where he picked up two shutouts in 37 games played and posted wins in 17 of those games with a 90.35 save percentage. Last season he was one of the few players that stuck through a constantly reshuffling deck of players in Merritt.

Without trying to assume anything, it is safe to say that the new hockey operations staff had their eyes on two other netminders for the role and released Kyle making him a free agent. Cue the Spruce Kings and Kyle finds himself a new home in the BCHL. I don't know what the plan is for Friday's game in Merritt, but that would be kind of interesting to see Kyle get the start against the team that discarded him ... don't you think he would be just a little fired up!

Talking with Mike Hawes and Ed Dempsey, they see both players coming in and making an immediate impact on the team. And we all know that an immediate impact is needed to get the team moving in the right direction again. In Quesnel on Wednesday night, I saw a team that wanted to win and was doing everything right to start the game only to have a bounce go against them. This team is much better than what the stat sheet shows and I'm looking to see the right combination of confidence and execution, skill and work ethic materialize on Friday night against the Centennials.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Game 3 - at Quesnel Millionaires

Third Period - Nothing gained and nothing lost in the third period with both teams trading eight shots each but no goals scored in the final period.

Second Period - Spruce Kings cashed in on a powerplay chance with a goal that can only be described as a garbage goal. The play started with Matt Genovese keeping the puck in at the right point. After a quick pass over to the left point, Jeff Datoff fired the first shot into the traffic at the front of the net. In the smaller zones at the Quesnel Twin Arenas, it wasn't hard to have all forwards down in front of the Millionaires crease. As it turns out all three Spruce Kings ended up touching the puck and figuring in on the play as the puck was poked through skates and finally under the big pads of Kirby Halcrow.

RJay Berra was awarded the goal with Nick DeSousa and Andrew Pickering chipping in on the play and getting their names onto the scoresheet. The Spruce Kings were barely out of celebration mode when the home team was able to re-establish their two goal lead. Later in the second period, the Millionaires found themselves on their second power play that they took advantage of to go up 4-1 on the Spruce Kings.

First Period - Spruce Kings trail the Quesnel Millionaires 2-0 after the Millionaires capitalize on a broken play at 4:40 of the first and add a power play goal at 17:03. Shots on goal also favour the Millionaires 10-7 heading into the second period.

Rosters ...

Quesnel Millionaires

4 Justin Sotkowy
5 Sam Higgins
6 Spencer Graboski
7 Matthew Herskovitz
9 Brett Howe
10 Lucas Ford
12 Huck Saunders
14 Skyler Smutek
16 Trevor Hertz
17 Taylor Holst
18 Erik Hansen
19 Breyden DeCock
20 Darick Ste-Marie
21 Tyler French
22 Mitch Galbraith
25 Rylan Stanyer
26 Chris Kerr
27 Eliot Raibl
31 Kirby Halcrow
35 Tyler Vant Erve

Prince George Spruce Kings

1 Alex Wright
2 Matt Genovese
3 Wes McLeod
4 Clayton McEwan
5 Justin Fillion
7 Jesse Scrimbit
8 Jonathan Gibson
9 Nick DeSousa
10 Andrew Pickering
11 Kyle Manlow
14 Chris Gularte
15 Luke Hannas
17 Brooks Robinson
18 Colten Derickson
19 Joe Morgan
20 Jeff Datoff
21 Stewart Lambert
22 Jeremy Wiebe
23 RJay Berra
30 Marcus Beesley

Officials

Ref Jim Storey
Line Justin Neufeld
Line Wyatt Burt

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Good News, Bad News and Game Audio

Well a bittersweet day today in the castle as the team learned of its punishment as a result of the events that played out in the first minute of Saturday's third period. The team also learned of another returning player from last year's squad.

Starting with the bad news, the British Columbia Hockey League has reviewed the game DVD from Saturday night that saw a near line brawl early in the third period. The league has long talked about minimizing fighting in the BCHL and has taken steps to bring in stricter penalties for offenders. One such rule revolves around multiple fights in the same stoppage in play.

There certainly were multiple fights following an incident that pitted Luke Curadi, the Penticton Vees enforcer, up against the Spruce Kings franchise player, Sam Muchalla. The ensuing melee saw a combined total of four fights on the ice at the same stoppage; the first fight was ruled to be that of Justin Fillion scrapping it out with Curadi. The players involved in the three other pairings were all assessed two game suspensions each.

That means that Josh Pineiro, Jeff Earnest and Sam Muchalla will all be scratched while serving their suspensions for Wednesday's game against the Quesnel Millionaires and also Friday's game in Merritt against the Centennials. On the other side of the ledger, the Penticton Vees will have to sit out Garrett Milan, Ben Sexton and Alex Szczechura for two games each. It should be noted that all three of the Vees players have already sat out one game, missing the Sunday game in Quesnel.

On a more upbeat note, the Spruce Kings announced the return of Spruce Kings veteran goaltender Alex Wright. Having spent a great deal of the summer preparing for the season, Alex started with the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League and was there right to the bitter end before being the last cut before the start of WHL regular season.

Speaking with Alex, he is extremely excited and looking forward to getting back into the Junior 'A' game for his hometown team and to contribute to the success of the Spruce Kings any way he can. He sees this as an opportunity for himself to improve his play even that much more ... remember it was his play with the Chiefs that kept him on the preseason roster.

In his very first preseason game, Alex Wright earned a shutout as the Chiefs posted a 3-0 lead over the Seattle Thunderbirds. With a maturity that exceeds his years, Alex believes that his experiences with the Chiefs have made him that much better of a goaltender for the Spruce Kings and his goal is to improve on a very impressive rookie year.

In the backup role to Kevin Genoe last season, Alex Wright was still able to play over 1,000 minutes in 20 games and posted the team's second best ever goals against average for a single season and fifth best save percentage. A check of the Spruce Kings record book shows that Alex finished last season with a 2.52 GAA, second only to Michael-Lee Teslak's 2.47. His save percentage was also in the highly sought after better than 90 percent mark at 91.18 again only slightly behind the likes of Teslak and Brad Thiessen.

Watch for Alex to get the start in Quesnel on Wednesday night as the Spruce Kings head out on their first road trip of the season. The suspensions to Muchalla and Earnest will put a little more pressure on the offense to perform with a couple of key ingredients. The absence of Pineiro should also result in an opportunity for Chris Gularte to get into the game and show what he can do after being a scratch in both of the games last weekend.

It will be interesting to see how the Spruce Kings respond to their opening weekend results and the absence of their three suspended players, but also how they play in front of Alex Wright. The game will be broadcast on 93.1 CFIS-FM and simulcast online using the radio station's streaming audio player. The link to access the internet audio broadcast will be from the station's logo on the Spruce Kings website. If you would like to test your system's capability of playing the audio stream from the radio station, CLICK HERE.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Game 2 - vs Penticton Vees

Third Period Summary - The third sure started with a bang ... at the 39 second mark following a hard forecheck by Sam Muchalla that the referee didn't think warranted a penalty. The Vees obviously disagreed and the first person to let Sam know was Luke Curadi, a big player listed as 6' 5" and 255 pounds - that's a full one hundred pounds more than the Spruce Kings captain. In the scrum, Curadi ended up on top of Muchalla and that was enough for Justin Fillion who came in to try and break up the log jam and then it was on. Curadi went with Fillion, Josh Pineiro with Alex Szczechura, Jeff Earnest with Ben Sexton and then as Sam Muchalla was able to get out of the crowd he was met by Garrett Milan and they had a good exchange. The only pairing that kept it from becoming a true line brawl was Brooks Robinson and Malt Paltridge and of course the goaltenders.

The whole mess took over twenty minutes to clean up and resulted in a combined nine fights (Curadi was charged with two) and ten game misconducts including a pair to Curadi and Fillion. Mixed in there as well was an instigating minor to Curadi which ultimately gave the Spruce Kings a seven minute powerplay to work with. Without the likes of Muchalla, Fillion, Earnest and Pineiro available for the ensuing man advantage, the Spruce Kings came up empty. In fact it was worse than that as a defensive zone faceoff went horribly wrong and resulted in a short handed goal against.

That was the last time the Vees would score on the night, but of course nine goals was more than enough to claim the two points on the night. On the bright side of all of this, the time in goal for Tim Zwiers helped to calm the youngster who now officially has one BCHL game on his stat sheet. Although it might be one he would rather forget after giving up three goals on thirteen shots in just under 35 minutes in goal.

I wonder what this does for that rivalry I hinted at before the game, it very well might have gone from a defrost to at least a simmer if not more. Time will tell and these two teams will have some time to think about what transpired before they meet again in November. These two will see each other again on Saturday November 28 in the South Okanagan Events Centre at the tail end of a three game road trip with stops in Vernon and Trail beforehand.

Following the game, league commissioner John Grisdale, who was in attendance at the game, took away the game DVD presumably to review it for possible suspensions before Penticton's afternoon affair with the Millionaires in Quesnel. It may actually be the Millionaires that benefit the most from this event as they are the next opponent for both teams. The Spruce Kings will be in the Gold Pan city on Wednesday for their first road game of the season and a chance to find the win column against former Spruce Kings coach, Glen Watson.

Second Period Summary - It looked like it was going to start better for the Spruce Kings with Evan Smith seeing the puck and making some key stops then a penalty crept into the picture putting the Vees back on the man advantage. In the first period they had scored three of their goals on the powerplay and all of them less than 30 seconds into the man advantage. This time the Spruce Kings were able to hold them off for almost a minute, but that was all as the Vees made it a 7-2 contest. Then another power play and another power play goal put the visitors up 8-2 and Evan Smith onto the bench for the second time in the game.

Tim Zwiers came into the game for the second time, but this time looks a little less nervous and has stopped the puck all three times he has been called on to do late in the second. The defence is also starting to work harder at getting the puck out of their own zone and out of the danger areas. Now the offence needs to start clicking again.

First Period Summary - The gloves came off early to start the game with Colten Derickson and Logan Johnston only wait long enough for the puck to hit the ice before they engaged in an extended back and forth tilt. That sparked the Spruce Kings as they opened the scoring on a nice play setup by Sam Muchalla from behind the net out to Brooks Robinson. Immediately following that faceoff another fight ensued with Luke Hannas and Luke Curadi trading a few in a quick tilt.

From there it was all Penticton as they scored three times on five shots chasing Evan Smith to the bench and bringing out Tim Zwiers to try his luck. Unfortunately the welcome to the BCHL wasn't any better for the Williams Lake product who was scored on twice on three tries. The second goal scored on Tim was while the Spruce Kings were short two players. Prince George did get a two man advantage for themselves that they were able to convert on. Robinson's second of the game still wasn't enough to stem the tide as the Vees added one more before the end of the first and have a 6-2 lead to start the second.

Rosters

Penticton Vees

1 Bonar, Sean G 91
4 Jones, Mitch D 91
6 Johnson, Derik D 90
7 Sorensen, Byron D 91
8 Dolan, Bo D 90
9 Viselli, Ryan F 89
10 Filiou, Eric F 89
11 Manderson, Denver F 89
14 Szczechura, Alex F 90
15 Nicholishen, Stefan F 93
17 Laleggia, Joey D 92
19 Holka, Joey F 90
21 Johnston, Logan F 91
22 Milan, Garrett F 91
23 Sexton, Ben F 91
27 Lirette, JC F 89
33 Rumpel, Joel G 91
43 Curadi, Luke D 91
44 Paltridge, Matt D 89
78 Bennett, Beau F 91

Prince George Spruce Kings

1 Zwiers, Tim G 92
2 Genovese, Matt (AP) D 91
3 McLeod, Wes D 90
4 McEwan, Clayton D 91
5 Fillion, Justin D 90
8 Gibson, Jonathan D 90
9 DeSousa, Nick F 90
10 Pickering, Andrew F 89
11 Manlow, Kyle F 91
15 Hannas, Luke F 91
16 Earnest, Jeff F 91
17 Robinson, Brooks F 89
18 Derickson, Colten F 89
19 Morgan, Joe F 89
20 Datoff, Jeff D 92
21 Lambert, Stewart F 90
23 Berra, RJay F 90
24 Pineiro, Josh D 89
26 Muchalla, Sam F 90
35 Smith, Evan G 89

Officials

Ref - Justin Neufeld
Line - Eric Martens
Line - Wyatt Burt

Congratulation to Brandon Manning

Former Spruce Kings defenceman Brandon Manning has been invited to stay over from the Toronto Maple Leafs prospects camp to participate in the NHL team's main camp. Manning obviously had a good showing in the tournament, that he attended as a free agent, to warrant an extended look at what this Prince George minor hockey product can do when the stakes are raised a little higher.

I spoke with Brandon via text earlier today to congratulate him and he let me know that they are already into the pre-camp activities with fitness testing. I hope to be able to provide some updates on his progress, but of course playing hockey in the centre of the universe ... I'm sure his progress will be well documented by the hordes of media followers that will be at the camp.

The Sun Came Up

Forgive me for bringing up that old cliché, but I couldn't resist after the gorgeous start to the day on the heels of what can only be described as a meltdown from the previous night. The Spruce Kings opened their 2009/10 season with great promise and were greeted by cheers and rounds of applause by the nearly 1,500 in attendance for the home opener. Unfortunately the newest incarnation of the Spruce Kings were shown just how important it is to play a complete 60 minutes in the British Columbia Hockey League.

After the opening roster introductions and national anthem was sung, the puck dropped to open the 2009/10 season. The visiting Westside Warriors went on the attack early, but some good defensive zone coverage and some early saves got the fans into the game and allowed the momentum to shift in favour of the home team. Prince George was awarded consecutive powerplays and while up a man on a 4-on-3 situation, Nick DeSousa found himself at the right spot and the right time to open the scoring and give the Spruce Kings a 1-0 lead.

Penalty troubles continued for the visiting Westside Warriors to the point where the Spruce Kings actually had a two man advantage with a third penalized player sitting in the box waiting for his penalty time to start. The Spruce Kings were able to test out their power play with the extended two-man advantage and it was during this sustained pressure that a high shot found the newly strung (tightly strung, I might add) twine just under the cross bar and inside the goal post. Unfortunately it was ruled at the time a save because of how quickly the puck came back out into the play. Maybe that was a sign of things to come ...

After a long run with no whistles, the Spruce Kings players and coaching staff had a chance to call over the referee to plead their case, but to no avail. As the play resumed, the Westside Warriors took advantage of the seemingly confused Spruce Kings and tied the score up at one. The Spruce Kings would get that one back on a nice shot by off-season acquisition Brooks Robinson and took a 2-1 lead to the dressing room after the first period.

The Spruce Kings came out strong in the second period and drew two more consecutive penalties against the Warriors in what would ultimate prove to be the turning point of the game. In their second two man advantage of the game, Prince George was unable to get anything past the visitor's netminder despite good puck possession and control in the offensive zone. Shortly after the penalties expired, Westside went down the other end and got their first good scoring chance of the period but were stopped by a quick whistle just before the puck crossed the goal line.

The Warriors were undeterred and made the most of their limited chances in the second period, scoring three times before the buzzer sounded to send the teams to their dressing rooms to regroup. The Warriors came out even stronger in the third and limited Prince George to just six shots while scoring four times on their 13 shots in the final frame. The game ended on the rough side with a total of three fights in the final minute. I fully expect there to be a suspension or two as a result, but will have to wait until the league releases its decision.

Meanwhile, under the warm sunshine of a new day, the Prince George Spruce Kings will have to turn their attention to the return of the Penticton Vees into the Coliseum. The last time this Interior Division team was here saw an exciting playoff game go the way of the Spruce Kings as they forced a fifth and deciding game back in Penticton. It is always exciting to see the first meeting between two teams that last met in the playoffs and I don't suspect tonight's contest will lack any enthusiasm.

There is always just enough players on both squads to keep memories alive and well and this is the stuff that builds rivalries ... so let the Vees and Spruce Kings rivalry begin anew tonight. Game time is 7:00pm at the Prince George Coliseum with doors open at 6:00pm.

On a side note, the BCHL Commissioner John Grisdale will be in attendance tonight as he makes a northern road swing. Last night he welcomed the Williams Lake Timberwolves back into the league after a two season absence and, after checking out things in the northern most stop of the league, will welcome coach Glen Watson back to the BCHL when he visits Quesnel.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Game 1 - Home Opener vs Westside Warriors

Third Period

Summary - More of the same in the final twenty minutes with Westside capitalizing on their chances and taking away the chances for Prince George. Spruce Kings bench did get a pick-me-up compliments of Luke Hannas who ended up dropping the gloves with Izaak Berglund who was playing a chippy game. Spruce Kings players did battle for each other and it resulted in a few fights at the end of the game. Not the outcome the Spruce Kings were hoping for in their season opener, they were able to outplay their opposition at times early in the game. Perhaps the "Crowning Moment" of the game was the inability to pull away in the second period while carrying the play and having the two man advantage for almost a full minute. After that penalty kill the Westside Warriors pulled away and started burying their chances and built up their confidence.

Second Period

Summary - Spruce Kings had the momentum and the flow and the control early in the second period and were rewarded with a two man advantage for their hard work. Unfortunately they were unable to cash in with the man advantage and the Westside Warriors took over momentum. It started with a disallowed goal on a quick whistle, but after that the Warriors settled down and cashed in three times to take a 4-2 lead after forty minutes. Shots on goal favour the Spruce Kings 23-22

First Period

Summary - Shots on goal even at 11 a-piece. Spruce Kings lead 2-1 heading to the dressing room, but think they should be up 3-1 and I have to agree. Puck shot high on the near side just under the cross bar inside the goal post bounced out quickly ... thought is that the net is strung too tightly. They are brand new nets making their debut in tonight's game. Spruce Kings will have to put that behind them and focus on the task at hand as the Westside Warriors look a little disorganized at times and have drawn five penalties including three that overlapped giving the Spruce Kings an extended two man advantage. It was during that powerplay that the controversy goal or non-goal happened.

Roster ...

Westside Warriors

22 Trevor Bailey '89 F
27 Izaak Berglund '91 D
28 Grayson Downing '92 F
24 Brendan Ellis '89 D
25 Max French '92 F
21 Darren Gillen '91 F
23 Alex Grieve '90 F
26 Tyler Krause '91 F
4 Scott MacDonald '91 F
2 Matthew Maher '90 D
19 Dru Morrison '92 F
5 Jason Nash '91 D
7 Michael Quinn '90 D
16 Cam Reid '91 F
14 Kyle Singleton '90 F
18 Colton Sissons '93 F
9 Cole Wilson '90 F
8 Joel Woznikoski '89 D
33 Kevin Jebson '89 G
1 Michael Smith '91 G

Prince George Spruce Kings

23 RJay Berra '90 F
20 Jeff Datoff '92 D
18 Colten Derickson '89 F
9 Nick DeSousa '90 F
16 Jeff Earnest '91 F
5 Justin Fillion '90 D
15 Luke Hannas '91 F
21 Stewart Lambert '90 F
11 Kyle Manlow '91 F
4 Clayton McEwan '91 D
3 Wes McLeod '90 D
19 Joe Morgan '89 F
26 Sam Muchalla '90 F
10 Andrew Pickering '89 F
24 Josh Pineiro '89 D
17 Brooks Robinson '89 F
7 Jesse Scrimbit '90 D
22 Jeremy Wiebe '91 F
35 Evan Smith '89 G
1 Tim Zwiers '92 G

Officials

Ref - Korey Martens
Line - Eric Martens
Line - Bill Hudyma

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Taking a Closer Look - The Recruits

Okay so now the roster is down to the twenty three man list, leaving just eleven new players to look at. For these rookies, or perhaps more appropriately the first year guys, it should be noted that the definition of a rookie in the British Columbia Hockey League is less than 29 games played at the Junior 'A' level. One of the eleven players considered to be a first year guy does have more than 29 games at the Junior 'A' level, a few others were called up as affiliated players last year while the rest are truly new to the BCHL experience.

Jeff Datoff, '92 (D) - With his hometown listed as Nanaimo, Jeff Datoff is no stranger to Prince George having been born and raised until he was twelve here. Jeff is one of only the two 17 year old players on the roster heading into the season and does give up a little bit on size and weight, but seems to make up for it with a strong puck sense in his own end.

Jeff Earnest, '91 (F) - From Whittier Alaska, Jeff Earnest played for the San Jose Junior Sharks last season where he scored 17 goals and added 31 assists in 58 games. Jeff is an extremely hard working player that can win battles for the puck in the corners. There is an offensive spark here with grit that helps to add depth up front for the Spruce Kings.

Jonathan Gibson, '90 (D) - Now a resident of Prince George, Jonathan Gibson was playing Junior A hockey last year for the Burlington Cougars of the Central Canadian Hockey League (formerly part of the OPJAHL). Jonathan played in 37 games last season scoring twice including a powerplay goal and picking up 10 assists as well. His strength will be his physical play and using his bigger body to muscle other players off the puck and move the play in an offensive direction.

Chris Gularte, '91 (D) - Another graduate from the prestigious San Jose Jr. Sharks hockey program last season, Chris Gularte tallied 6 goals and 3 assists to go along with 60 penalty minutes in 49 games. Chris is a stay at home defenseman that can be dangerous with his big point shot. Technically an eighteen year old player, but not until late December, Chris has a quiet confidence about him and is looking forward to answering the challenge of playing in the BCHL.

Luke Hannas, '91 (F) - A big strong forward, Luke Hannas has a size and reach advantage and the ability to use it when necessary. An AP with the Quesnel Millionaires last season, Luke has had his introduction to the Junior 'A' game. During camp and the preseason, Luke fit right in and was as much a goal scoring threat as he was a physical presence in front of the net.

Stewart Lambert, '90 (F) - You can call Stewart Lambert a free agent after taking last season off to concentrate on his educational studies. A part of the 2007 BC Major Midget Championship team with the likes of RJay Berra, Nick DeSousa and Justin Fillion, Stewart hasn't looked like a player that has been away from the game for a whole season. With an accurate shot and a good skating stride, he already possesses the ability to show up on the game sheet most nights.

Kyle Manlow, '91 (F) - One of the five American born players on the roster to start the season, Kyle Manlow was second in team scoring last season with the San Diego Gulls of the Western States Hockey League. Kyle averaged 1.4 points a game as a rookie scoring 24 goals and adding 18 assists in 31 games making him a potent offensive player and perhaps the dark horse heading into the season.

Clayton McEwan, '91 (D) - The Spruce Kings had Clayton McEwan in their roster twice last season as an AP and were impressed with his play defensively. Last season Clayton scored one powerplay goal, added 13 assists and was assessed 154 minutes in penalties with the Aldergrove Kodiaks. Although he isn't afraid to look for the big hit to make a play, his edginess appears to have matured for this season and he hasn't been taking unnecessary penalties.

Jesse Scrimbit, '90 (D) - Another tough player, Jesse Scrimbit adds some more toughness on the blue line for the Spruce Kings. Having paid his dues for two years at the Junior 'B' level, desire to stay at the Junior 'A' level alone will see this defenseman playing a tough game intended to wear down the opposition.

Jeremy Wiebe, '91 (F) - A late cut last year from the Vernon Vipers training camp, Jeremy Wiebe took the first opportunity to come to the Spruce Kings and show off his tough style and hard work ethic. Through the training camp and preseason games, Jeremy moved from defence to forward and showed his ability to play both ends of the ice when called upon.

Tim Zwiers. '92 (G) - The only other true seventeen year old player on the roster, Tim Zwiers has looked good between the pipes for the team that AP'ed him last season. During his time in goal through the preseason Tim posted a 3.00 goals against average and really shone while playing in his hometown of Williams Lake where he faced a determined Timberwolves squad that hounded him in the crease but could not get through the door.

Remember that these assessments are mine and mine alone, you watch the newest players on the Spruce Kings roster and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

23 Man Roster

Spruce Kings have released their 23 player list heading into the new season.

Player Name No. Pos. Sh. Ht. Wt. Born Hometown
BECKER, Joe 12 Forward Right 5' 10" 180 lbs January 29, 1990 Moorhead, MN
BERRA, RJay 23 Forward Right 6' 00" 180 lbs July 26, 1990 Prince George, BC
DATOFF, Jeff 20 Defence Left 5' 10" 160 lbs May 26, 1992 Nanaimo, BC
DERICKSON, Colten 18 Forward Right 6' 00" 200 lbs November 15, 1989 Westbank, BC
DeSOUSA, Nick 9 Forward Left 6' 00" 180 lbs November 13, 1990 Fraser Lake, BC
EARNEST, Jeff 16 Forward Right 5' 10" 175 lbs February 8, 1991 Whittier, AK
FILLION, Justin 5 Defence Right 5' 11" 175 lbs April 23, 1990 Prince George, BC
GIBSON, Jonathan 8 Defence Left 6' 01" 205 lbs February 1, 1990 Prince George, BC
GULARTE, Chris 14 Defence Right 6' 00" 195 lbs December 26, 1991 Salinas, CA
HANNAS, Luke 15 Forward Left 6' 02" 185 lbs September 9, 1991 Williams Lake, BC
LAMBERT, Stewart 21 Forward Right 6' 00" 175 lbs April 5, 1990 Prince George, BC
MANLOW, Kyle 11 Forward Left 5' 10" 165 lbs June 28, 1991 Murrieta, CA
McEWAN, Clayton 4 Defence Left 6' 00" 180 lbs November 26, 1991 Kelowna, BC
McLEOD, Wes 3 Defence Left 6' 02" 185 lbs September 30, 1990 Kamloops, BC
MORGAN, Joe 19 Forward Left 5' 08" 180 lbs April 7, 1989 Kitimat, BC
MUCHALLA, Sam 26 Forward Left 5' 08" 155 lbs August 14, 1990 Prince George, BC
PICKERING, Andrew 10 Forward Left 5' 10" 175 lbs June 2, 1989 West Vancouver, BC
PINEIRO, Josh 24 Defence Right 5' 10" 205 lbs August 25, 1989 Huntington Beach, CA
ROBINSON, Brooks 17 Forward Right 5' 11" 180 lbs August 18, 1989 Duncan, BC
SCRIMBIT, Jesse 7 Defence Left 6' 01" 180 lbs December 19, 1990 Sicamous, BC
SMITH, Evan 35 Goal Left 6' 00" 185 lbs August 8, 1989 Penticton, BC
WIEBE, Jeremy 22 Forward Right 6' 00" 180 lbs July 20, 1991 Vernon, BC
ZWIERS, Tim 1 Goal Left 5' 10" 160 lbs June 24, 1992 Williams Lake, BC

Monday, September 7, 2009

Taking a Closer Look - Part 2: The Returnees

Adam Baldassarre, ’89 (F) – Last season Adam Baldassarre was characterized as a pinball crashing into as many players as he could during his shifts; this season Adam has adopted a more of a pick your battles approach. The new look for Adam has helped this player find a smoother skating style that has put him in the right places at the right times. UPDATED - Unfortunately for Adam, he was released in the week prior to the start of the season. The Spruce Kings hockey operations staff had to make the tough decision because of the league requirement to carry only six 20 year old players.

Joe Becker, ’90 (F) – Entering his sophomore season, Joe Becker has worked hard during the offseason with long time friend Jordy Christian to find speed in his game. He showed that speed as well as strength on the puck during training camp. Unfortunately Joe was unable to show anything during the preseason because of an injury that he is currently working on getting back to one hundred percent.

RJay Berra, ’90 (F) – The subject of an off-season trade scenario almost too unbelievable to be real, RJay Berra found himself on three team rosters before finally returning to the Spruce Kings just before the start of training camp. The ordeal showed us a great deal of maturity in RJay as he fought through the changes and remained focused on being ready for the season no matter what. With a rejuvenated desire to play hockey, RJay played himself onto the top line during the final preseason game.

Colten Derickson, ’89 (F) – A player who continually evolves and shows new things, Colten Derickson is used to proving his spot on the roster. For Colten and the Spruce Kings it started two seasons ago when he came to the Spruce Kings as a free agent in the late stages of the regular season. This year Colten has improved his physical play and play making decisions; that depth may be what it takes to keep one of those limited overage roster spots.

Nick DeSousa, ’90 (F) – A high flying forward that can seemingly make something out of nothing, Nick DeSousa has shown a more patient approach around the net during the preseason. Noticeably stronger after working hard over the summer, Nick has added that dimension to his game this year to go along with his already good vision and puck handling skills. Add in that patience and this may very well be the pay off season for Nick with bigger numbers in his sophomore season.

Justin Fillion, ’90 (D) – Last year’s Rookie of the Year will be a key player on the blue line this year, Justin Fillion will be another defenceman expected to carry much of the work load along with Wes McLeod. Not afraid to jump up on the rush and go to the net himself, Justin will have to be a leader and work closely with his ‘D’ partners to ensure that the back end is still taken care of.

Wes McLeod, ’90 (D) – This veteran is returning for his third season with the Prince George Spruce Kings after deferring his scholarship to the University of Alaska-Anchorage. Although Wes McLeod could have attended his NCAA school this year, the situation presented with the Spruce Kings was just too appealing to pass up on. Top ice time and a role as one of the top four D-men , if not the number one guy, will be immensely beneficial for this player that has received NHL attention.

Joe Morgan, ’89 (F) – With a hard hitting feisty style, Joe Morgan will be a leader on the team this year. Joe has the ability to turn a game with a hard hit or a big play; this could be the power forward that the Spruce Kings have been looking for. He’s not afraid to go to the tough areas on the ice or get involved with the physical aftermath of being there. With a quick release on a hard shot, Joe has the ability to find the net on every shot and find himself as one of the top offensive producers.

Sam Muchalla, ’90 (F) – What is there not to say about this player? Sam Muchalla is this year’s franchise player and the reason some others were brought into the organization. Committed to Northern Michigan next season, look to Sam to take his game to another level and continue where he left off last season as the team’s leading scorer and among the top five in the league. Playing a game bigger than he is, Sam is a handful for the opposition with his skating, puck handling and ability to take and deliver a hit.

Andrew Pickering, ’89 (F) – This skilled forward was acquired from the Trail Smoke Eaters at last season’s trade deadline and impressed right away. Andrew Pickering has been playing the preseason as the left winger on the top line with Sam Muchalla and Brooks Robinson. Focused and driven to secure a scholarship, Andrew wants to show what he can do as a player and a team mate.

Josh Pineiro, ’89 (D) – The only twenty year old on the blue line is Josh Pineiro, this American born player came into camp with a desire to hold onto his overage roster spot. Josh showed his potential last year on the blue line especially in special team situations. This summer he has worked hard at building muscle mass along with speed and agility; skills that should improve this player’s already good puck moving abilities.

Brooks Robinson, ’89 (F) – A highly sought after centreman, Brooks Robinson was acquired in the offseason from the Grande Prairie Storm after spending three seasons in the BCHL, most of that with the Cowichan Valley Capitals. A good puck handling forward that can make and finish plays, Brooks comes to the Spruce Kings with a scholarship to Quinnipiac for next season. Brooks has been playing the consistently on the top line with Sam Muchalla and Andrew Pickering where he will be called upon to dominate in the faceoff circle under most situations.

Evan Smith, ’89 (G) – Now with his third BCHL team, Evan Smith can finally take on the role of being the number one goaltender. Evan is extremely encouraged by the calibre of goaltenders that have come out of the Spruce Kings organization over the past few seasons and what they have gone on to achieve. His desire is to earn a spot in a class with Michael Wall, Michael-Lee Teslak, Brad Thiessen and Kevin Genoe as well as secure a NCAA scholarship in his last year of junior eligibility.

Taking a Closer Look - Part 1: The Dressing Room

With only a few days left before the puck drops on the 2009/10 season, the Prince George Spruce Kings have a roster of twenty six players and have to get down to twenty three. The main camp did start with over sixty players looking for those available spots and along the way cuts were made that brought the list down to its current numbers. There are still three more cuts that must be made and at least one of those will come from the list of returning players as a result of the overage rule limiting the number of twenty year olds to six.

I personally can not image how difficult this process must be for both the players and the hockey operations staff. In a brief conversation with Ed Demspey, the head coach and general manager admitted to me that this is the toughest part of training camp as he acknowledged players that were here deserved to be here. So it comes down to a numbers game and reeks of a reality TV show where someone will have to be voted off the ice and asked to take their gear from the dressing room.

Over the next couple of days I will be taking a few minutes to provide a closer look at the players currently on the roster. As you might expect it is easier to examine the returning players, so I shall begin there. Right now there are thirteen players that are considered returning players; eleven of them are true returnees while the other two were off season acquisitions.

In that group, there are a number of key players that will be expected to fill key roles for the season. Each and every one of them has shown that they are taking this year seriously for their own advancement and the success of the team. From the role of number one goaltender, to blue chip blue liners and offensive production up front, the returnees have all these positions covered. Part 2 of "Taking a Closer Look" provides a brief summary of each of these players that are currently in the dressing room. I hope you enjoy my "scouting reports" and encourage you to leave your comments.

Shades of 2005

This post was written and submitted by Aaron Dubois, Spruce Kings junior broadcaster.

September 11th is just around the corner. This week ahead has the management staff scratching their heads. The Spruce Kings currently have 28 players left over from the main camp, that's five too many for anybody counting. Unless your name is Sam Muchalla, I don't think anybody is actually 'safe.'

Throughout the camp I have seen players play themselves into a spot on the exhibition roster. I also saw players play themselves out of one of those spots unfortunately. There was a tremendous amount of young talent on display down at the Coliseum over the last two weeks. The obvious battles are for the two 16 year old spots, the six 20 year old spots and the backup goaltending job.

I'm not writing this article to speculate who is going to make the team and who is going home. I’m doing this to let everybody know this will be a different Spruce Kings team then the previous seasons. The last couple seasons, the Northern Kings have been more of a finesse style of team. This year look for a similar style that saw the team finish second in the Interior Division back in 2005.

That team, lead by gritty captain Tyler Loney, was a force to be reckoned with. They weren’t a team that was easily pushed around. They stood as one and fought as one. Battling for 60 minutes every game, win or lose; the opposition probably thought they were in a Michael Vick dogfight. That '05 team could beat you up in so many ways - along the boards, defensive zone, neutral ice and deep into enemy territory.

Although they were a physical team, they still had no problem putting the puck into the net thanks to the likes of Leath Gare and Chris Stevens. That season also gave birth to the junior careers of one time captain Ryan deVries and local products Vinny Muchalla and Curt Morrison. All three went on to produce great junior careers and saw their names on the greatest stage of Junior ‘A’ hockey in Canada - the Royal Bank Cup in 2007, where the Spruce Kings took second place.

I'd be really putting my neck out there if I said this 2009-2010 Spruce Kings squad will equal that '05 team, but I will say this team seems to be made to almost mirror that successful bunch from four seasons ago. Once again, I believe the Coliseum won’t be viewed as a building that visiting teams can come in and take away two points. I believe whole-heartedly, when that final buzzer sounds, the opposition won’t be able to leave the arena fast enough.

Aaron Dubois will be contributing posts throughout the season as he continues to follow the team and broadcast their home games.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Exhibition Game #4 - Third Period

The Spruce Kings picked up where they left off and got a quick goal in the opening minute of the period. Officially it is recorded as an unassisted tally, but Brooks Robinson deserves the credit for this one as he went in hard on the forecheck, came up with the puck and fired a hard shot that the goaltender could not handle. The rebound came out to RJay Berra who made no mistake as he picked up his second of the preseason and gave the Spruce Kings a 3-0 lead early in the third.

Perhaps an early lead wasn't what the Spruce Kings needed, but rather the spark that set off the Williams Lake Timberwolves as they started firing on all cylinders and getting some great scoring chances on Chris Solecki. I counted at least three hard to the net plays by the attacking Timberwolves that resulted in the net getting dislodged and faceoffs in the Spruce Kings end. The hard work paid off for the visitors as they got on the board at 4:54 on an odd-man rush and a shot that squeezed through the short side between the pads and the post.

The Timberwolves kept the pressure on the Spruce Kings defence and netminder, in total they would fire fifteen shots at Solecki getting two past the sixteen year old goaltender from Burns Lake. The second would come on a power play very late in the period. On a call made away from the play, Joe Morgan was given a slashing call and then assessed a 10 minute misconduct for disputing the call at 19:35 of the third. With the goaltender on the bench, Williams Lake essentially had a two man advantage and a ton of pressure in the offensive zone. With 7.4 seconds remaining in regulation time, Landon Andrusiak scored his second of the game to get the Timberwolves to within one. Like the night before in Williams Lake, that was as close as they would come with the Spruce Kings preserving the one goal victory.

Final score was 3-2 Prince George, but it was the Williams Lake Timberwolves that outshoot their opponents with a final tally of 37-32. Chris Solecki faced 15 in the third period alone to go along with his 10 in his half of the second period. The performance of all five goaltenders through the course of the exhibition season will make it tough for the coaching staff to pick their final two goaltenders for the season.

The Spruce Kings roster will have to be down to twenty-three players, including six twenty year olds, before the puck drops on the regular season Friday September 11th.

Exhibition Game #4 - Second Period

Spruce Kings started the second period stronger getting a pair of shots on goal from the grinder line of Colten Derickson, Joe Morgan and RJay Berra. On the next shift, Stewart Lambert, Luke Hannas and Kyle Manlow were able to get some "ohh's" and "ahh's" out of the fans with another two good chances. Kirk Croswell has been doing it all for the Timberwolves early in the second period.

It was over five minutes into the middle frame before Evan Smith had to make a save, thanks in no small part to a very aggressive offensive presence by the Spruce Kings. That presence paid off with not one but two goals just over a minute apart. First up was Wes McLeod who trailed the play and was able to beat the Timberwolves goaltender to the short side of the net. Just over a minute later it was Colten Derickson at the right spot at the right time as the Nick DeSousa rebound came right to him as he stood all alone at the top of the crease and fired the puck into the open net.

A few minutes later it would be RJay Berra with a glorious chance on the two-on-one rush but his one-timer sailed just wide. The Spruce Kings did get a number of chances and finished the period with a total of fourteen shots on Kirk Croswell. At the other end, Evan Smith only faced a total of two shots in the second period and a total of twelve during his time in net that came to an end with the whistle at 11:31. Chris Solecki came in and was immediately tested, but showed no signs of being cold from sitting on the bench. The Timberwolves fired a total of ten shots at Solecki and started showing some signs of frustration.

At 13:54 the expected gunner for the Williams Lake Timberwolves, Trent Murdoch was caught for a cross check by both the referee and Joe Morgan who ended up getting an offsetting roughing minor. With exactly four minutes remaining in the second period, Jeff Earnest got the only other Spruce Kings penalty of the period when his elbow came up on Landon Andrusiak. The official ruled it a check to the head, a minor penalty that also carries with it a ten minute misconduct.

Shots on goal by the Spruce Kings dropped off as the period rolled on, but they did register a total of fourteen in the middle frame and have twenty to start the third period to the Williams Lake Timberwolves twenty-two. The stat that matters though is the score and after fourty minutes that belongs to the Spruce Kings with a 2-0 lead over the visitors.

Exhibition Game #4 - First Period

First period comes to an end with neither team finding the back of the net. Shots on goal favour the Williams Lake Timberwolves 10-6 and at one point were 4-1 despite the Spruce Kings looking like they had better chances. Evan Smith has been sharp in goal to start the game for Prince George. Early in the first Smith was bowled over and the play jarred his mask loose.

On the powerplay the Spruce Kings did hit a post early in that opening period off a good shot by Nick DeSousa. The home team has had the benefit of three powerplays, but hasn't been able to get very many quality shots on goal thanks to a good looking penalty kill. The Williams Lake Timberwolves have had a pair of odd man advantages and have been able to get a few good shots through on Smith.

The period ended with Sam Muchalla showing his feisty side, perhaps a little out of frustration and perhaps a little to spark the Spruce Kings heading into the second period. Both teams are playing their final preseason games tonight with the Timberwolves looking to come from behind to finishing with a .500 record while the Spruce Kings can finish off their four game exhibition schedule with a three game winning streak.

Exhibition Game #4 - Pregame

It will be possible to listen live tonight ... CLICK HERE to launch audio player for 93.1 CFIS-FM radio feed of the Spruce Kings final preseason game versus the Williams Lake Timberwolves.

I will be doing period-by-period summaries only, but feel free to email me, tweet me or send me a comment if you can't get the audio player to work for you.

UPDATE! ... remember that fight last night between Luke Hannas and Darren Tarasoff ... at the time I thought there was something wrong with Tarasoff's hand. Turns out that Tarasoff is now a scratch and the Timberwolves have called up Mike Jorgenson from the Cariboo Major Midget Cougars to fill that hole on defence.

Officiating crew tonight will be Jim Storey as the referee with Wyatt Burt and Eric Martens lining.

Exhibition Game #4 - Rosters

Prince George Spruce Kings roster:

  1 - Chris Solecki (92)
  2 - Wes McLeod (90)
  4 - Justin Fillion (90)
  6 - Jeff Datoff (92)
  8 - Chris Gularte (91)
11 - Clayton McEwan (91)
14 - James Cannon (90)
15 - RJay Berra (90)
16 - Brooks Robinson (89)
19 - Joe Morgan (89)
20 - Colten Derickson (89)
21 - Nick DeSousa (90)
22 - Andrew Pickering (89)
23 - Luke Hannas (91)
24 - Kyle Manlow (91)
25 - Adam Baldassarre (89)
26 - Sam Muchalla (90)
27 - Nolan Grauer (90)
28 - Jeff Earnest (91)
35 - Evan Smith (89)

Head Coach/General Manager - Ed Dempsey
Assistant Coach - Bayne Koen
Assistant General Manager - Mike Hawes
Trainer - Bill Baldridge
Equipment Manager - Malcolm Poburan
Stick Boy - Joel Ingham

Williams Lake Timberwolves roster:

  1 - Kirk Croswell (90)
  2 - Jake Harcoff (90)
  3 - Manny Haider (90)
  4 - Kyle Beaulieu (91)
  5 - Darren Tarasoff (90)
  6 - Colin Wandfluh (90)
  7 - Zack Knowler (91)
  8 - Dane Rupert (91)
  9 - Keagan Little (89)
19 - Landon Andrusiak (91)
20 - Kyle Leung (90)
21 - Anthony DeLong (91)
22 - Ryan Stanimir (90)
23 - Trent Murdoch (91)
24 - Sam Virich (91)
25 - Justin Bardarson (90)
26 - Josh MacDonald (90)
27 - Laine Keyes (89)
28 - Jason Diehl (89)
54 - Evan Dauenhauer (89)

Head Coach - Dave Dupas
Assistant Coach - Brandon Wright
Athletic Therapist - Brenda Wambolt
Equipment Manager - Josh Wright

Friday, September 4, 2009

Exhibition Game #3 - Third Period

Spruce Kings pick up a penalty early in the third as a result of a simple play to dump the puck back in by the Timberwolves. Good penalty kill results in a Williams Lake penalty with 52 seconds still remaining in Andrew Pickerings penalty. On the four-on-four, Jeff Earnest finds himself on the doorstep but unable to convert.

Back to even strength and this time it is Muchalla who is sprung but has his quick wrister picked off by the glove of Evan Dauenhauer.

Penalty to Josh Pineiro has the Spruce Kings short handed again. Brooks Robinson knocks down the puck at the point and is off on a breakaway straight down the middle. GOAL! Shorthanded and unassisted 20 seconds into the Timberwoves powerplay. Just seconds after the Pineiro penalty is killed off, the pressure with the man advantage pays off for Williams Lake as they get on the board at 8:48 of the third. Spruce Kings still lead 2-1.

Luke Hannas has just turned Darren Tarasoff into a speedbag with no less than 20 straight rights. This was no contest and Tarasoff may have hurt his hand at the beginning of the fight. Which may explain why he only attempted one punch.

7:30 to go and Nolan Grauer has just been caught for a retaliation after slashing the TWolves player that knocked him into the corner boards. Chance for Williams Lake and the shot goes over the crossbar. PG on a power play now, in fact it will be a two man advantage for 24 seconds. A rookie mistake will cost the Spruce Kings the remaining time with the two man advantage after an inadverdent icing.

3:00 to go and the Spruce Kings are shorthanded again. Check that, it'll be 4-on-4 after Sam Vikich took down Pineiro hard and draws an interference penalty.

1:00 to go and the Timberwolves goalie is looking to the bench for a sign from the coach that he wants him to come off for an extra attacker. Spruce Kings keeping pressure on keeps him in the net. TWolves get the puck out of their zone and the goalie to the bench. Faceoff at the Spruce Kings blueline is dumped in and covered by Zwiers. Another faceoff with 8.7 seconds remaining is won by Williams Lake. Shot on goal is steered into the corner by Zwiers and shot back into the crease. Game finishes with a goal mouth scramble, but the puck stays out and Spruce Kings win 2-1.

Spruce Kings outshot Williams Lake 31-26 which means both Hernandez and Zwiers faced 13 shots each. The two teams will now head north for the second half of the home-and-home. Game time is 7:00pm at the Coliseum with doors opening at 6:00pm. Admission is $5.00 a person at the door only.

Exhibition Game #3 - Second Period

Nice tilt to start the second between Joe Morgan and Erik Wentzel. Joe gave up a lot on height and reach, but have to say the boy from Kitimat won this one as he kept coming on. Once Joe got his arm free, he let loose with two rights that knocked the big guy down.

Williams Lake has decided to try a physical game plan to try and tie the score. Jake Harcoff has just hard to the net late after the whistle taking out Hernandez awkwardly. Only one penalty that to Williams Lake. Prince George is answering back with a physical prescence of their own. Big hit on a Williams Lake player has rattled his teeth and knocked the mouth guard out.

Another powerplay for PG but limited shots on goal despite good puck possession with the extra attacker. Tail end of that power play and Landon Andrusiak finds the puck on his stick. Streaking in on the Spruce Kings goaltender, it is Hernandez that comes up with the big play on the poke check. Sam Muchalla has just drawn a hooking penalty on the same play.

A whistle at 10:17 brings Tim Zweirs in to play goal for Prince George in front of his hometown. Luke Hernandez stops all 13 shots he faced during his 30:17 tour of duty.

Prince George will have to be careful as Williams Lake is coming on and carrying a lot of the play. No sooner say that than the Spruce Kings turn the momentum with two good shifts starting with Nick DeSousa getting a partial breakaway followed up by Sam Muchalla putting on a stick handling clinic in the offensive zone.

Some nice shifts and chances that didn't quite materialize for both teams. Second period ends the same as the first with the Spruce Kings leading 1-0 on the Nick DeSousa goal scored late in the opening period. Prince George had to come from behind on the shot clock, but have evened up that stat at 17 apiece. Tim Zweirs faced four during his half of the second including two coming off breakaway chances for the Williams Lake Timberwolves. Hard to say who has momentum heading into the third with the teams trading chances right down to the period ending buzzer.

Exhibition Game #3 - First Period

Underway in the first and the message is trying to be sent. Wes McLeod hit from behind - no call; at the other end, Andrew Pickering squeezed into the goaltender gets a high sticking call. Spruce Kings kill it off with Stewart Lambert getting a chance shorthanded.

Spruce Kings still applying the pressure, but have been turned back on the intentional off-side call. Good pressure results in a powerplay for Prince George with a tripping call against Josh MacDonald.

Wes McLeod assessed a penalty after diving to knock the puck off an attackers stick. He broke up the play, but the official claims he didn't touch the puck first. That's not what the Spruce Kings bench thinks and it happened right in front of them.

Well scoring chances don't get much better than being left alone in front of the net or streaking in on a two-on-one. Both of those happened for Jeremy Weibe on the same shift. Thinking the play was heading down the ice, Jeremy Weibe was able to get in behind the defence. Stopping the puck in his skates, Weibe didn't have quite enough time to fish it out before being tackled. Then with the puck in the neutral zone, Weibe found himself as the free man on the left wing. The hard pass across was deflected off the rookie's stick just grazing the shortside post.

With less than two minutes remaining in the opening period, the Timberwolves have drawn another penalty. Time is ticking down in the first with the Spruce Kings applying pressure down low with a different looking powerplay unit. Nick DeSousa scores to make it 1-0 Spruce Kings on the powerplay goal with assists going to Andrew Pickering and Luke Hannasin the last minute of the period.

Shots on goal favour the Spruce Kings by one, 8-7. Luke Hernandez in the crease for the first period has looked solid and can thank the post for one save on a nice cross crease pass that was shot just wide by the home team.

Exhibition Game #3 - Pregame

Spruce Kings arrived in Williams Lake at 6:10 after an unscheduled stop in Quesnel to fix a flat tire. Boys unloaded the bus and have gotten right down to business and are on the ice for the pregame skate. The Spruce Kings will be wearing their third jerseys with a Montreal Canadiens feel; the Timberwolves jerseys are based on the St. Louis Blues.

By the way, the rink has a few new things and a fresh coat of paint; but for the most part looks the way it did two years ago. Just talked to Eric Zwiers (Tim's dad) who is obviously excited to see his boy play tonight. Luke Hernandez is expected to get the start tonight with Tim coming in at the midway point of the game.

Also heard from Matt Lees and Jordan Simpson and will be looking for them as the game gets underway at 7:30pm.

Exhibition Game #3 - Rosters

Spruce Kings roster for September 4th game in Williams Lake.

  1 - Tim Zwiers ('92)
  2 - Wes McLeod ('90)
  4 - Justin Fillion ('90)
  6 - Jonathan Gibson ('90)
  8 - Josh Pineiro ('89)
11 - Jesse Scrimbit ('90)
14 - James Cannon ('90)
15 - RJay Berra ('90)
16 - Brooks Robinson ('89)
19 - Joe Morgan ('89)
20 - Jeremy Wiebe ('91)
21 - Nick DeSousa ('90)
22 - Andrew Pickering ('89)
23 - Luke Hannas ('91)
24 - Kyle Manlow ('91)
25 - Stewart Lambert ('90)
26 - Sam Muchalla ('90)
27 - Nolan Grauer ('90)
28 - Jeff Earnest ('91)
25 - Luke Hernandez ('91)

Head Coach/General Manager - Ed Dempsey
Assistant Coach - Bayne Koen
Assistant General Manager - Mike Hawes
Trainer - Bill Baldridge
Equipment Manager - Malcolm Poburan
Stick Boy - Joel Ingham

Williams Lake Timberwolves roster

  1 - (G) Kirk Croswell ('90)
  2 - (D) Jake Harcoff
  3 - (D) Manny Haider
  4 - (D) Kyle Beaulieu ('91)
  5 - (D) Darren Tarasoff ('90)
  6 - (D) Colin Wandfluh
  7 - (D) Zach Knowler ('91)
  8 - (F) Dane Rupert ('91)
  9 - (F) Keegan Little ('89)
19 - (F) Landon Andrusiak ('91)
21 - (F) Anthony DeLong ('91)
22 - (F) Rylan Stanimir ('90)
23 - (F) Trent Murdoch ('91)
24 - (F) Sam Vikich
25 - (F) Keenan Bailey ('91)
26 - (F) Josh MacDonald ('90)
27 - (F) Jesse Bachmeier ('90)
28 - (F) Erik Wentzel
30 - (F) Kyle Leung ('90)
54 - (G) Evan Dauenhauer

Head Coach - Dave Dupas
Assistant Coach - Brandon Wright
Assistant Coach - Aaron Zurak
Athletic Therapist - Brenda Wambolt
Equipment Manager - Josh Wright

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Alumni Assumes Academic Advisor Role

This post was written and submitted by Rob Pritchard, Spruce Kings Alumni from 2004-2005.

As the Spruce Kings are gearing up for the 2009/10 season I am glad to say that I am once again back with the team. Although it has been 5 years since I played my last game in the Coliseum, I will be helping the players out as an academic adviser, working to help players with the Spruce Kings land college scholarships.

After leaving the BCHL in 2005, I went on to play four years at Dartmouth College in the Ivy League and NCAA before hanging up the skates to work in Washington, DC. Despite the time difference, I will be staying in touch with the players as they start talking to schools and taking steps to further both their hockey and academic careers.

My decision to come back and volunteer with the Spruce Kings came after I left the game to begin working full time. Although my playing days are now behind me I began to realize that almost every aspect of my life has benefitted from hockey and I would like to pay the favour forwards.

The Spruce Kings are a team that needs no help in furthering players' careers. Since I received my scholarship and graduated from the team, Prince George has moved dozens of players on to the NCAA, the CIS, and various professional leagues in addition to hosting a Royal Bank Cup. For my part, I would just like to see if I can put some of my personal experience to use in order to help the players reach their full potential.

Here's to a successful 09/10 season.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Exhibition Game #2 - Third Period

Teams are back on the ice for the start of the third with the Spruce Kings still on the power play for 14 seconds. Nothing with the extra man and things seem to have settled down some with both teams getting chances. The best had to be Trevor Hertz on a breakaway tring to beat Evan Smith low along the ice on the glove side. Smith played it perfectly to stop the Quesnel Millionaires franchise player.

With twelve and a half minutes to go in the third period, Jesse Scrimbit (incorrectly identified as Sam Muchalla on original posting) has just rung a howitzer off the goal post that nearly bounced in off the goaltender. A quick stick by the Mills D-man prevented the loose puck from crossing the goal line. Sam Muchalla is really turning it on and just came up with a defensive stick check on the back check that was shaping up to be a two on one. He then dangled through the nuetral zone and into the offensive end to create a glorious scoring chance.

Mills appear to be a little on their heels with consecutive icing calls against as a result of the pressure being applied right now by the Spruce Kings. Eight minutes to go and another faceoff in the Millionaires end.

Make that four fights ... this one clearly won by the PG player, Jeremy Wiebe. Shortly after this tilt and maybe the Mills do have some life and appear to be on the verge of a bounce or two. A dump in shot takes a bad bounce off the glass but the quick foot of Evan Smith kept the puck out and preserves the two goal lead with 5 minutes remaining.

Game is over and PG celebrates their first win of the preseason with a 4-2 final. PG also outscored the Mills 27-20.

Exhibition Game #2 - Second Period

Spruce Kings kill off the penalty to start the second period giving up only one shot on goal. On a shorthanded chance the puck jumped over Wes McLeod's stick; that may have sparked the veteran who dropped the gloves shortly afterwards with Breydan DeCock. The Spruce Kings have responded to the loss of the veteran blueliner as they go down the other end of the ice and score two goals less than a minute apart.

I'm at the wrong end of the rink to tell exactly what happened, but Quesnel was in full goal celebration and another fight broke out with Nick DeSousa and John Martin dropping the gloves. After the referees conference there was no goal added so the score remains 4-1.

Another fight, which means they have reached the BCHL maximum for an exhibition game. The rules state that no one player can have more than 3 fights in the preseason and that there can't be more than 3 fights in any one preseason game without drawing further penalties ... presumably game supensions and/or fines. Okay back to the play and the Spruce Kings have a two man advantage to work with.

It was a short two man advantage that resulted in only one good shot on goal. Intensity remains high in the game and some more pushing and shoving behind the PG net has resulted in a penalty to Andrew Pickering.

Spruce Kings will have another power play to finish off the second period. A bad clearing pass out of their zone has cost the Spruce Kings a shorthanded goal against with just 7.8 seconds remaining in the second period.

The teams will go to the dressing room with Prince George leading 4-2. Final shots on goal in the second were 7-4 in favour of Quesnel ... total after two is 12-11 for PG. Chris Solecki stopped 5 of the 6 shots he faced in his 30:47 tour of duty. The Quesnel Millionaires appear to be sticking with Kirby Halcrow as he stayed put between the pipes while PG made their change.

Exhibition Game #2 - First Period

Just underway in Smithers and Sam Muchalla has already brought a big "Ohhh" from the fans with a heavy hit in the offensive zone. Quesnel has registered three shots on goal in the first two minutes.

Spruce Kings score at 7:37 of the first to take the 1-0 lead. Stewart Lambert picks up the goal after some hard work around the net.

2-0 PG on a powerplay goal scored at 12:13 of the first period. Nick DeSousa and Andrew Pickering set up Clayton McEwan who had no trouble find the open side of the net.

13:52 and the Millionaires are on the board with an Eric Hansen chip shot that went up and over Chris Solecki. The Spruce Kings are now going on their third powerplay with five and half minutes remaining in the first period. A first penalty against PG has the teams playing a little 4 on 4 hockey. Penalty was to Nick DeSousa for slashing.

Just before the end of the first, Jesse Scrimbit is assessed a tripping call after trying to strip the puck off a streaking Trevor Hertz. The play kept the puck out of the net, but not Hertz who slid in under Solecki drawing a bit of a crowd with 5.6 seconds remaining in the opening period.

After giving Quesnel the first three shots on goal, the Spruce Kings scored on their first shot. Final shots in the first were 7-4 for Prince George.

Exhibition Game #2 - Pregame

Here we are in Smithers, it was a nice drive through a very scenic area of the province to find ourselves in the Bulkley Valley at the base of the Hudson Bay Mountain. Unfortunately some technical difficulties has created an expected situation preventing the broadcast of the game back to Prince George on 93.1 CFIS-FM.

The two teams are on the ice now taking their warmup skate. Quesnel is the home team wearing their blues. Prince George is the visiting team wearing their third jerseys from last season. (hint: look for some new jerseys to be unveiled for the home opener on September 11th).

Both teams are going with a more veteran squad tonight. The big name on the roster for Quesnel is Trevor Hertz but also includes returnees Rylan Stanyer, Sam Higgins, Justin Sotkowy, Brett Howe and also their two goal scorer from last night - Lucas Ford. The Spruce Kings have Wes McLeod, RJay Berra, Brooks Robinson, Joe Morgan, Nick DeSousa, Andrew Pickering and Sam Muchalla on the roster.

Opening faceoff is scheduled for 7:05 as residents of Smithers continue to file into the Civic Arena.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Exhibition Game #1 - Third Period

With the younger and less experienced Spruce Kings skating against the older and more experienced Quesnel Millionaires, Prince George kept pace with the visiting team but came up one goal short in a 4-3 loss. Again in the third period the two teams would trade goals and it was the home team that had to come back from a two goal deficit. 4:20 into the third period, Lucas Ford scored his second of the night from Adam Wade.

Quesnel would hold onto that two goal lead until the 13:49 mark when Prince George wass able to convert on a delayed penalty situation and a rush that started from their own goal line. With Cameron Large heading to the bench for the extra attacker, Luke Hannas started the play by finding a way through the maze of blue jerseys into centre ice and gave the puck to Adam Baldassarre. The twenty year old forward was able to get the puck to the net after going around the goal. The initial try was stopped, but Colten Derickson banged at the loose net and watched it hop over the glove of Luke Simens and into the Millionaires net.

The goal seemed to spark the Spruce Kings who started buzzing, but could not get the tying goal. With 1:34 remaining in the third period, Ed Dempsey called a time out to get his goaltender out of the net in favour of the extra attacker in the time remaining. After the Mills iced the puck, the Spruce Kings took advantage of the offensive zone faceoff and extra attacker. One glorious chance saw the puck deflect off a defender and just sail behind Nolan Grauer while he cruised past the far side of the net.

The Spruce Kings had to settle for the 4-3 loss, but were upbeat about the accomplishments of the younger squad. Final shots on goal were even at 28 each with the Spruce Kings firing 15 on Simens and Large facing 11 Quesnel shots. During his 28:50 in net for Prince George, Cameron Large faced a total of 15 shots and Luke Simens faced 18 in 30:05 in net for the Quesnel Millionaires. On the special teams, Prince George went 1 for 4 with the man advantage and added another goal with the offical waiting to assess a penalty to Quesnel. Meanwhile the Millionaires finished with one powerplay goal in their six chances.

The two teams will now head to Smithers for the second half of the home and home series. The game will be played in the Smithers Civic Centre Arena at 7:00pm and will be broadcast on 93.1 CFIS-FM. Audio from the game will also be available on the Spruce Kings website.

Exhibition Game #1 - Second Period

A little more goal scoring in the second period with both teams finding the back of the net twice, one even strenght and one power play goal for each. One of the little stats that might be of interest is that both teams scored on their first shot on goal in the second period. It took the Mills 4:35 to get their first shot in the middle frame and that was after a power play opportunity came up empty as well for them. It was finally a shot from Lucas Ford that got through Tim Zwiers to give the Millionaires the 2-0 lead; only one assist on the goal going to Matt Herskovitz.

The Prince George Spruce Kings responded a few minutes later with an even strength goal that came seven seconds after a Quesnel penalty. Spruce Kings first goal scorer of the exhibition season was Nolan Grauer out of Nanaimo with assists going to Harjas Grewal and Josh Pineiro. At the mid way mark the teams would switch goaltenders bringing in Luke Simens for Quesnel and Cameron Large for Prince George.

Shortly after that they would then trade power play goals two minutes apart. With Pineiro in the sin bin for hooking, Thomas Kala found himself standing in front of wide open net and made no mistake firing in the Millionaires third of the game with assists going to Ira Gladue and Matt Herskovitz. Two minutes later with the Spruce Kings on the power play, Jeff Datoff let a big blast go from the high slot just inside the blue line that blew by everybody to get the Spruce Kings to within one again. One of the sixteen year olds, Tyson Witala picked up the lone assist on the goal.

Shots on goal in the second period against the two Quesnel goaltenders was seven while the Spruce Kings tandem faced nine. In his tour of duty, Zwiers faced a total of ten shots allowing two goals against. At the other end, Sean Donnelly faced nine shots total giving up one goal off the lone PG shot he faced in the second period.

Exhibition Game #1 - First Period

As expected, Tim Zwiers of Williams Lake was given the start in net for the Prince George Spruce Kings and saw the majority of action in front of his crease. The younger lineup of the Spruce Kings held their own and had some chances at the other end as well. The Millionaires, with their older lineup and two game of preseason experience, found themselves with a few goal mouth scrambles that Zwiers and his defence were able to keep out of the Prince George goal.

The Millionaires opened the scoring at the 8:48 mark with a goal that was awarded to the defenceman, Matt Herskovitz. Helpers on the only goal of the opening twenty minutes went to a pair of returning Millionaires players, Thomas Kala and Mitch Galbraith. There was only one powerplay in the opening period and that went to the Millionaires when Justin Fillion got caught for a hooking penalty in the defensive zone.

There were also offsetting penalties at the beginning game as a result of a pair of players crossing the centre line during the pregame skate. Josh Garneau of Quesnel Millionaire and Stewart Lambert of the Prince George Spruce Kings were both caught with a foot over the line and that was enough for the officiating crew to institute the 10 misconduct call. By the way, just so you know when you are at the rink and see the faceoff moved to the defensive zone after a penalty call ... that is one of the new rules in place for the 2009-10 season in the BCHL.