The Prince George Spruce Kings are enjoying the view from the penthouse.
That impressive vista got even more scenic for the Spruce Kings Friday night at the Coliseum as they reeled off their fourth-straight victory, a 3-0 decision over the Vernon Vipers to improve their grip on first place in the BCHL's Mainland Division.
Mitch Eden, Christian Weidauer and Jeremiah Luedtke were the goalscorers. Alex Murray made 20 saves for his first BCHL shutout.
All of the scoring happened in the third period.
Eden left his post on defence to create an odd-man rush and was rewarded with his first goal of the season at the 4:04 mark, pouncing on a fat rebound after Braiden Epp took the original shot
The Kings followed that up six minutes later with a pair of goals 18 seconds apart to make it a 3-0 count. Defenceman Christian Weidauer blasted a loose puck in the slot past goalie Danny Todosychuk. Before the Vipers knew what hit them Jeremiah Luedtke had his first of the season after linemate Justin Rai stripped the puck away from Michael Statchuk off the end boards.
The Kings (6-3-0-1) improved to 6-3-0-1 while the Vipers dropped to 4-5-0-1 in front of a crowd of 1,343.
Murray faced just 11 shots through two periods but was under siege to start the third period with Rai off for slashing. The Vipers fired seven shots at Murray before the penalty expired.
The Kings dominated the first period, winning the physical battles and claiming the loose pucks while outshooting Vernon 9-2, but had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard. Eden came close, cranking one squarely off the goalpost on a setup from Bryant Christian. The Kings stacked the blueline and gave the Vipers all kinds of trouble finding room to operate. Eden, Stephen Penner and Skylar Pacheco were particularly nasty with their body language, leaving frustrated Vipers in their wake.
The Vipers started to find their skating legs in the middle frame. Brenden Persley, whose WHL career included stops in Chilliwack and Victoria, gave Murray his first real test of the game early in the second period but the 20-year-old from Burlington, Ont., stood his ground and kept the game scoreless.
Sixteen-year-old Brogan O'Brien made his home debut in a Spruce Kings uniform, centring an all-Prince George line with Riley Hawes and big Sean Landrey and the kid brought a bundle of energy to the ice, showing great wheels and smart playmaking decisions that nearly had the Kings celebrating on a few occasions. O'Brien started the season playing with the Cariboo Cougars major midgets and played his first BCHL game last weekend in Coquitlam.
The Kings' power play was able to set up shop in the offensive end but failed to generate much in the way of quality chances, going 0-6 in the game.
Jake LeBrun, the Kings scoring leader and top-line centre, had to be helped off the ice after he was pasted into the boards illegally by Vipers defenceman Mark Hamilton. That prompted a heated discussion in the press box between the two head coaches, Jason Williamson of Vernon and Dave Dupas of Prince George during the postgame interviews.
The Kings entertain the Victoria Grizzlies tonight (7 p.m. start) in their only regular season visit to Prince George.
Vipers 0 at Spruce Kings 3
Penalties -- Coughlin Ver (interference) 14:19, McNicholas Ver (hooking) 18:32.
Penalties -- Persley Ver (fighting), Hawes PG (fighting) 3:04, Hamilton Ver (check to the head, misconduct) 4:40, Guenther Ver (double roughing), Landrey PG (cross-checking) 13:33, Pacheco PG (roughing) 16:32.
1. Prince George, Eden 1 (Epp, Painchaud) 4:04
2. Prince George, Weidauer 3 (LeBrun, Christian) 10:46
3. Prince George, Luedtke 1 (Rai) 11:04
Penalties -- Rai PG (slashing) 0:27, Dumonceaux Ver (roughing), Weidauer PG (roughing) 2:17, Sparrow Ver (roughing, misconduct), Penner PG (kneeing) 6:34, Hamilton major boarding, served by Blacklock, game misconduct), Povelofskie Ver (roughing), Christian PG (roughing) 12:40.
Shots on goal by
Goal -- Vernon, Todosychuk (L,1-3-0); Prince George, Murray (W,4-3-0)
Power play (goals-chances) -- Ver; 0-2; PG: 0-6.
Referee -- Jordy Davis; Linesmen, Nick Albinati, Brett Burton.
Attendance -- 1,343.