The Prince George Spruce Kings have been grounded.
Instead of playing a B.C. Hockey League exhibition game Saturday night in Merritt, they'll be sticking close to home as a result of Thursday's announcement by the provincial health office which prohibits teams from traveling to other regions for games for the next two weeks.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the new restrictions apply to the entire province and are in effect until Dec. 7, which could jeopardize the the opening of the season for the 18-team league. The Spruce Kings are scheduled to play the Merritt Centennials in a weekend doubleheader, Dec. 4-5 at Rolling Mix Concrete Arena.
"The weekend games (this weekend) have been cancelled, but nothing else beyond that at this point," said Kings general manager Mike Hawes. "We're hoping to get updates today and get clarification from viaSport on exactly what the travel restrictions are because there's been nothing confirmed yet.
"Our start to the season is still as it was until viaSport confirms today one way or another. BC Hockey has commented that there could be still be some travel between communities so we're just waiting for viaSport to give us what the firm word is before we make a decision as a league."
Saturday's game in Merritt was to be the final exhibition game for the Kings. The team will maintain its current practice schedule and instead of facing the Cents they will play an intraquad game Sunday at Rolling Mix Concrete Arena.
Hawes confirmed Friday that 19-year-old goalie Carter Woodside left the team earlier this week and returned to his home in Asquith, Sask., and is awaiting a trade. Woodside joined the Kings halfway through the 20919-20 season and played 22 games, amassing a 3.08 goals-against average, .900 save percentage and 5-11-2 record. Woodside did not play in any of the seven exhibition games for the Kings (4-2-0-1). That leaves the netminding duties to BCHL rookies Aaron Trotter, 18, and 19-year-old Jordan Fairlie. Hawes says he will continue to look for a third goaltender to fill the roster.