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Christian Buono's hat-trick, Jordan Fairlie's sharp eyes help Prince George Spruce Kings shut out Merritt

Jordan Fairlie stops 16 for first BCHL cleansheet

It must be the sweaters!

The Prince George Spruce Kings continue to exert their dominance in the 2020-21 BCHL pod season, as clear-cut as ever tonight (April 28).

Christian Buono recorded a second hat-trick night in the shortened campaign, including one goal shorthanded, while Fort St. John's Jordan Fairlie stopped all 16 shots he faced for his first career junior 'A' shutout.

The result was a 7-0 beating against Merritt; the Spruce Kings have yet to lose to the Centennials in the 20-game schedule.

Fairlie's performance between the pipes led to, what may be, an astronomical footnote on the stats sheet.

As of now, all three Prince George Spruce King goaltenders have recorded at least one shutout in a 14-game span, five altogether including two each for Aaron Trotter and Kobe Grant.

Even more impressive, all of them are BCHL rookies, and Trotter and Fairlie are now ranked second and third in BCHL goals-against average on the season with 1.42 and 1.81 respectively.

For Buono, this was the third time this year he registered at least three points and the second time he notched a three-goal game against the Centennials.

He opening the scoring with 2:37 remaining in the first period after taking a long pass up the middle, out-skating two Merritt players and deking around Colton Phillip-Watts to beat him left side.

Fellow alternate captain Kolton Cousins continued his hot-streak by potting his sixth goal in five games for the 2-0 advantage less than five minutes into the second stanza.

Phillip-Watts was pulled from the game and replaced with Brayden Melnyk after Spruce Kings' Nick Rheaume made it 3-0 at 12:38.

However, Melnyk's nerves may have gotten the best of him as Buono scored his second of the game 66 seconds later.

Prince George continued to push hard on offense early on the final frame with a pair of inaugural pod goals for Hunor Torzsok and Simon Labelle just over three minutes apart.

Buono's third lamp came at the 9:43 mark unassisted and on the penalty kill when Tanner Main was sent to the box for cross-checking.

That 7-0 score would stay as the final for the Spruce Kings to extend their win streak to five games in a row and improve their record to 10-3-0-1 with six tilts left.

At the final buzzer, 12 of the 18 skaters in royal-navy reverse retros got on the scoresheet.

Buono (3G), Rheaume (1G, 1A), Labelle (1G, 1A) and Carter Cochrane (2A) were the multi-point performers on the evening.

Prince George now gets a 24-hour's rest before it meets with Chilliwack, whom they are 3-3-0-1 through seven meetings in the pod season.

Puck-drop goes for Friday (April 30) at 5 p.m.