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Kings look to end 13-game skid

There's no getting around it, life in the land of the Prince George Spruce Kings has been as harsh and as bitter as the depths of a Saskatchewan winter.

There's no getting around it, life in the land of the Prince George Spruce Kings has been as harsh and as bitter as the depths of a Saskatchewan winter.

The team is mired in a 13-game losing streak, the head coach was fired, attendance has plummeted, and they still haven't found a way to beat the Quesnel Millionaires.

The Spruce Kings, under new head coach Dave Dupas, aim to change all that tonight when the Mills come to town (7 p.m. start), and they'd like their fans at the Coliseum to know they want them there to watch what's still an entertaining brand of hockey.

The Spruce Kings rank dead last in the B.C. Hockey League but don't think they are as bad as their 6-28-0-2 record would indicate, and will try to prove that to the Mills tonight in the fourth of eight meetings between the two teams this season.

Prince George has yet to beat the Millionaires in three tries this season, losing 4-3 in overtime on opening day Sept. 11 at the Coliseum, followed by 4-2 and 7-4 losses in Quesnel, Oct. 16 and Nov. 30. The first loss was a foreshadowing of a scene that's been repeated a few times this season. In that game, the Kings had a 3-0 lead in the second period and gave up the next four goals.

That game drew a crowd of 1,131 to the Coliseum, almost twice as many people as the team has drawn, on average, since then. Through 16 home games they've averaged 651 fans per game. Only the Millionaires, who play in the vastly outdated Quesnel Twin Arenas, have drawn less people on average (597) among the 16-team BCHL.

The Mills are the Spruce Kings' closest rival, both in points and geographically. Quesnel (9-23-1-2), the seventh-ranked team in the Interior Conference, has a seven-point lead over the Kings and hold one game in hand over Prince George. The top seven teams in the Interior make the playoffs.

The Kings last won a game on Nov. 5, a 4-1 road victory over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.

The firing of head coach and general manager Ed Dempsey on Nov. 24 led to several roster changes. The Kings dumped goalie Alex Wright, and forwards Brandon Fornwold and Riley Spraggs, and acquired goalie Cameron Large, forward Brandon Watson and defencemen Chase Golightley and Mike Puddifant. Puddifant, picked up in a trade with Nanaimo, has yet to report to Prince George.

Large, an 18-year-old who was a late cut of the Kings in training camp, has been the backup to Kirk Thompson in two games since he arrived a week ago from Comox Valley of the Vancouver Island Junior (B) Hockey League.

Homegrown 20-year-old forward RJay Berra continues to lead the Spruce Kings in scoring. With 25 goals and 43 points, he's averaging 1.2 points per game. Defenceman Justin Fillion has 35 points in 36 games, including 13 goals, followed in points by Nic DeSousa (33), Zac Ashdown (30) and 16-year-old rookie Jujhar Khaira. The newly-signed Northern Michigan recruit has 25 points in 34 games.

Spencer Graboski is leading pointgetter for the Mills with 25, and with 11 goals, he's the only Quesnel player in double figures. Former Cariboo Cougar major midget Chris Allbee has four goals and two assists in his rookie BCHL season. He scored two of his goals against the Spruce Kings.