First-place Kings look to tame Vipers

As the sun rises today over the B.C. Hockey League the Prince George Spruce Kings are sitting on the highest cloud, in first place overall.

That might not be the case by the time they step out on the ice tonight at Rolling Mix Concrete Arena to face the Vernon Vipers.

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That's because the Chilliwack Chiefs, who are just one point behind the Spruce Kings in second place in the Mainland Division will host the Langley Rivermen in an afternoon game that starts today at 2 p.m.

A win for the Chiefs (22-9-0-0) would allow them to temporarily leapfrog the Spruce Kings (21-8-1-2) into first overall and they could stay there if the Kings falter on home ice tonight.

The Spruce Kings are also feeling heat from the Interior Division-leading Penticton Vees (20-8-1-2), who are two points behind Prince George. The Chiefs and Vees have played one fewer game than Prince George.

The Vipers (11-10-6-3) have dropped to sixth place in the Interior. They made a deal with Prince George to acquire goalie Bradley Cooper, who will be back to visit his former teammates tonight. Cooper was dealt along with future considerations for winger Garrett Worth, who made his Spruce Kings debut last weekend, when they split a two-game series at RMCA with Langley.

The Spruce Kings will be without three of their top defencemen. Layton Ahac and Nick Bochen are in Calgary attending the Team Canada West tryouts for the World Junior A Challenge, Dec. 9-16 in Bonnyville, Alta. They'll also be missing Dylan Anhorn, who was invited to the Team Canada camp but is unavailable after he suffered a concussion during Saturday's game against Langley.

The Vipers have two players at the Canada West tryouts - forward Alex Swetlikoff and defenceman Jack Judson.

The Spruce Kings, who have Logan Neaton and new arrival Keenan Rancier in net, have allowed just 69 goals in 32 games, averaging 2.16 per game, best in the BCHL. They are also the least-penalized team with 285 penalty minutes, an average 8.90.

Game time tonight is 7 p.m.

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