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Benitzez has inside track as Kings starting goalie

The revolving-door entrance to the Coliseum for Prince George Spruce Kings goaltenders has been welded shut.

In 20-year-old Ryan Benitez, they have an Ivy League-bound veteran to take over as the starter, a goalie the Kings feel is talented enough to hold that job through the entire B.C. Hockey League season.

Benitez, a five-foot-10, 165-pound native of Denver, Colo., played for New York Apple Core last season in the Eastern Junior Hockey League, where he was signed by Princeton University. He compiled a 3.98 goals-against average and .903 save percentage in 42 games, splitting the season with 20-year-old Nick Therrien.

"I feel very lucky to come up here and I've been looking forward to this for a long time," said Benitez.

"The New York league is very competitive, it's close to the colleges (geographically) so you get a lot of exposure there but I was ready for a different experience and that's why I'm out here. This is definitely a step up and I know it's one of the best junior A leagues in North America. I've been impressed with the kids here and the level of play and I'm looking forward to the season.

"I'm excited to have the opportunity to be the starter but there's always competition," he said. "I'm looking forward to playing a lot of games here but I'll have to play my best."

For more, see Friday's Citizen