The Prince George Spruce Kings are in the exact same position as they were one series ago.
They now lead the B.C. Hockey League (BCHL) Mainland Division Finals 3-0 on the Chilliwack Chiefs after a rather convincing 8-0 Game Three shutout before more than 1,600 fans at the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena (RMCA).
.@SpruceKings take commanding 3-0 series lead on @Chiefs_Hockey after a 8-0 shutout of the reigning National champions in Game 3 at the RMCA 🚨 Team has chance to sweep Tuesday night | #CityOfPG @GoBCHL @PGMatters pic.twitter.com/c9euOounKC— Kyle Balzer (@KyleBalzer) March 19, 2019
Monday night (March 18) saw Prince George complete a second natural hat-trick in this series, courtesy of Captain Ben Poisson, who was on fire when he touched the puck.
Dustin Manz accomplished the first feat in the Spruce Kings’ 7-0 win in Game One down in the Fraser Valley.
Though he barely got any action in his own end across 60 minutes, goaltender Logan Neaton was unflappable once again in stopping all 13 shots he faced for his second shutout of the 2018-19 playoffs.
Chilliwack’s Daniel Chenard is credited with the loss, giving up seven goals on 32 shots; he was replaced by Nolan Hildebrand at the start of the third period and made 13 saves on 14 shots from Prince George in that frame.
The Spruce Kings came out firing shot after shot in the first 11 minutes of play, scoring four goals in over seven minutes from 3:43 to 10:53.
Lucas Vanroboys and Layton Ahac potted the first two, while Captain Poisson got the first two of his three goals while on power-plays.
.@SpruceKings have jumped ahead VERY quickly against @Chiefs_Hockey 🚨 Thanks to @BenPoisson12 on a PP, the home team leads 4-0 less than 11min into Game 3 at the RMCA | #CityOfPG @GoBCHL @PGMatters pic.twitter.com/CsY6eK3JGi— Kyle Balzer (@KyleBalzer) March 19, 2019
He completed the hatty with six-and-a-half minutes left in the middle frame to give Prince George a 5-0 lead, but the red, white, and blue didn’t stop there.
Before the 40-minute mark, Nolan Welsh and Nick Bochen lit two lamps in 39 seconds, including one on a man-advantage.
After busy first and second periods, only one puck was put in the Chilliwack net for the third and it came from the slap shot of defenceman Jay Keranen at 12:37.
Three other Spruce Kings managed to record three-point performances themselves, including Ahac (one goal, two assists), Welsh (one goal, two assists), and Patrick Cozzi (three assists).
Another game, another natural hat-trick in the #BCHLPlayoffs! 🎩🎩🎩— BC Hockey League (@GoBCHL) March 19, 2019
This time Ben Possion of the @SpruceKings pulls off the feat, as they now lead Chilliwack by a 6-0 score on home ice. pic.twitter.com/QUENfuLRqn
The victory puts Prince George in a comfortable position, but also a difficult one.
In the previous series, the Spruce Kings did lose Game Four in Coquitlam, but came back home in Game Five to win the series.
Chilliwack was down 0-3 in their first-round playoff with the Langley Rivermen, completing the four-game comeback only so few teams in hockey history have ever accomplished.
Prince George can expect a tougher tilt in Game Four on home ice, but the team is likely thinking they want to just get the series done sooner than later.
They’ll have that opportunity tonight (March 19), 7 p.m. at the RMCA; if they lose, Game Five will go back to the Prospera Centre in Chilliwack Thursday night (March 21).