Wounded or not, the show must go on for the Prince George Spruce Kings.
It's never easy playing away from home, but this week's tour of B.C. Hockey League arenas is downright nasty from a Spruce Kings' perspective.
Minus their top two wingers -- Brent Lashuk and Jake LeBrun, both sidelined with concussions, the Kings play in Merritt tonight, then go to Penticton and West Kelowna the following two nights.
The Merritt Centennials (6-5-0-0) currently rank third in the Interior behind the division-leading West Kelowna Warriors (8-2-0-1) and second-place Penticton Vees (7-3-0-0). The Cents will put a three-game win streak on the line tonight in Nicola Valley Arena.
"We played them in preseason and they're a team that hounds you, they're not a big team but they play very tenacious and it's a tough building to get points out of," said Spruce Kings head coach Dave Dupas.
LeBrun still leads the Spruce Kings in scoring with eight goals and five assists for 13 points in 10 games. He was concussed in last Friday's game against Vernon when pushed from behind into the boards headfirst by Vipers defenceman Mark Hamilton, who received a two-game suspension for that hit. Lashuk had two goals and eight for 10 points in nine games when he fell awkwardly against the boards and hit his head in Coquitlam on Sept. 27.
Without the offence of LeBrun and Lashuk the third-place Kings (6-4-0-1) are looking for volunteers to fill the nets this week. Defensively they are sound, having allowed just 24 goals in 11 games, third stingiest in the BCHL behind Powell River and Penticton.
"It's very difficult to win in Merritt, Penticton or Westside in the best of circumstances and all three of them have good teams this year," said Dupas.
"We're going down there a bit shorthanded so it's up to our young guys. We can't give the weekend away just because we're missing some guys, we have to try to get some points out of it. We'll need good goaltending and we need to keep the shots against down and the goals against down and hopefully we'll get some scoring from somewhere else here. It's the scoring that's been biting us a little bit this year.
"We've got over a third of our goals from our defence and we can't relay on that all the time."
Kings forward Chad Staley took a shot on the thumb in the Kings' most recent game, a 1-0 loss at home to Victoria on Saturday which ended a four-game winning streak, but he should be ready to play tonight.
Dupas plans to start 20-year-old Alex Murray in net, then said he will give 18-year-old Jesse Jenks the call for the Penticton game. Jenks made 36 saves to defeat the Vees 4-3 at the Coliseum on Sept. 20.
All three games will be webcast on bchl.bc.