Spruce Kings back in first overall

Anhorn hurt, d-men Bochen, Ahac trying out for Canada West

Goalie Braedon Fleming did all he could to give his Langley Rivermen a chance of pulling off a weekend sweep of the Prince George Spruce Kings.
Everything except score goals.
He couldn’t do that. The Spruce Kings weren’t allowing much of anything that took their own goalie, Logan Neaton, out of his comfort zone. They doubled the Rivermen in shots and doubled them on the scoreboard, winning 2-1.
The Kings, still smarting from the 4-0 pasting the Rivermen laid on them Friday, got back to what they’ve done so often this season, playing like a team that deserves to have the best overall record in the B.C. Hockey League. They regained top spot with Saturday’s victory.
Ben Poisson fired the game-winner 12:29 into the third period.
The win moved the Spruce Kings (21-8-1-2) one point ahead of the Chilliwack Chiefs (22-9-0-0) for first overall in the league. The Chiefs, second in the Mainland Division, have played one fewer game than Prince George.
Poisson’s goal came five minutes after Langley forward Ryley Lanthier tied the game with his first goal of the season. It came during a delayed penalty to the Chiefs and Max Coyle slid the pass to Poisson in the high slot and he buried it with a high wrister.
Dustin Manz gave the Kings their first lead of the night when he opened the scoring 12:59 into the second period.
The Kings outshot Langley 43-22. Neither team could score on their power plays. The Kings went 0-for-5 and the Rivermen were 0-for-2.
The Spruce Kings lost two players to injury early on. Defenceman Dylan Anhorn collided with a Chief in an open-ice hit about four minutes in and left with a head injury. A few minutes later, winger Cory Cunningham left the game with an upper-body injury after he took a heavy hit. Both players will likely miss games due to their injuries.
“It’s nothing too, too serious but they’ll miss some time,” said Kings head coach Adam Maglio.
That comes as an especially crushing blow for Anhorn, who was invited to the Canada West tryouts for the World Junior A Challenge Dec. 9-16 in Bonnyville, Alta. He and Spruce Kings defenceman Layton Ahac were expected to take part in the tryouts for the team starting Monday in Calgary.
“It was a pretty emotional game, we lost a couple guys early and the guys stepped up to get the win,” said Maglio. “I thought we did a really good job with the puck, it was improved from (Friday) night, they eliminated turnovers and obviously the chips fell where they should. We had some good opportunities and probably should have had a couple more (goals). It was a hard-fought game both ways.”
Taking Anhorn’s place at the Canada West camp will be Spruce Kings defenceman Nick Bochen. “It’s certainly a bad news/good news situation,” said Spruce Kings general manager Mike Hawes. “It’s very unfortunate that the injury to Dylan will prevent him from attending the camp. He’s been tremendous for us this season and I know that he is very disappointed.”
“Nick is an elite young player and the leading scoring rookie defenseman in our league. He and Layton will represent our team very well at the camp this week.”
The Spruce Kings head into the week with 43 points, followed by Chilliwack, with 42, and the surging Penticton Vees, who have 41. The Kings are three games into a seven-game homestand.
“It’s going to be tight and it’s still early,” said Maglio. “We’ll go into the Christmas break and come back in January and that’s when things will start to shake out, same as last year. We don’t expect Chilliwack to slow down. Tonight was another divisional game and beside Surrey, all four teams are in the mix here. We’re just past the halfway mark, there’s lot of hockey here. You want to give yourself a chance the last 10 or 15 games into that stretch run.”

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