They’re off and running at the National Junior ‘A’ Championship in Brooks, Alberta, and for the Prince George Spruce Kings, Day One sent a strong message.
That statement could be that they’re not going to go down without a fight and that their offensive talent will speak for itself, proven Sunday afternoon (May 12) with a 5-1 victory over the Oakville Blades at Centennial Arena.
The red, white, and blue’s defeat over the other red, white, and blue team in the tournament puts them at a record of 1-0 as they were the last of the five hockey clubs to start with an extra day’s rest.
Prince George surrendered the first goal to the Central Region champions in the second half of the first period, but were able to light the lamp early and often for the final 40 minutes of play.
Spruce Kings Head Coach Adam Maglio believes they can do better in terms of starting games, but was pleased to see his players get better as the contest progressed.
“Oakville is probably tired with a tight turnaround, but I didn’t think we were that sharp to start so maybe [being the last team to start] is a bit of a disadvantage,” said Coach Maglio in a statement. “I’m not too sure if our guys were nervous or we were rusty, but we need to be better off the start. I liked how we were resilient because we could have packed it in after the first period. It was one of our worst periods in a long time, but we found energy as the game went on. There are a lot of good things we’ll take into the next game.”
Three players finished the first game of the week with multi-point games.
Patrick Cozzi and Captain Ben Poisson each had a goal and an assist against Oakville, while Ben Brar nabbed two helpers on two goals for Prince George.
Chong Min Lee was able to tie the game at 1-1 two minutes into the second period; the Blades scored at the 13:59 mark of the first frame for the 1-0 advantage.
Cozzi followed with his 2-1 marker 3:16 later, which was added by Poisson on a power-play about five-and-a-half minutes afterwards for the 3-1 lead through 40 minutes.
Spruce Kings Defenceman Jay Keranen quickly made it 4-1 for the designated visitors 41 seconds into the third period, and Nick Poisson put the nail in the coffin at the halfway mark and eventually cruise to a 5-1 win.
Goaltender Logan Neaton made 20 saves on 21 shots in his Nationals debut, while Blades’ netminder Will Barber was pulled in the third period after allowing five goals on 39 shots.
Prince George’s second game of the 2019 National Championship goes for tonight (May 13) against the Ottawa Jr. Senators, the East Region winners coming into Brooks.
It’s the only game on the docket for the tournament today, which starts at 6 p.m. Pacific time.
.@SpruceKings off to a good start at the @HC_NJAC 👍 They win their opening game on a 5-1 victory over the Central Region-champion @OakvilleBlades this afternoon & are 1-0 at the tournament | #CityOfPG @GoBCHL @PGMatters pic.twitter.com/WaEmUmKjHB— Kyle Balzer (@KyleBalzer) May 12, 2019