Having clinched home ice for the first round of the BCHL playoffs, it's all about the standings for the Prince George Spruce Kings and going for No. 1.
With eight games left in the regular season, the Kings (32-12-1-5) are seven points behind the Mainland Division-leading Chilliwack Chiefs (38-12-1-0) for first-overall in the league and home-ice advantage for the duration of the playoffs.
The Chiefs have seven games left and three of them are against Prince George. That makes this weekend's three-game road trip for the Kings of vital importance if they hope to catch up to Chilliwack. They'll play tonight in Coquitlam, Saturday night in Langley and Sunday afternoon in Surrey.
The Spruce Kings have yet to sweep a three-game weekend road trip this season and head coach Adam Maglio says this would be an ideal time to make it happen.
"We want to take the division title so we need to keep winning games," said Maglio, whose team has won five straight. "Chilliwack is (seven points) up but we have them three times so we can control our own destiny if we keep winning. These are big building games going into playoffs and we have to build a bit of a road game going into playoffs. We need to get a clean sweep here."
Maglio likes the fact his team continues to be the stingiest club in the league. Goalie Logan Neaton set a team record with his 27th win Monday in Langley and his 1.93 goals-against average is tops in the BCHL. Through 50 games the Spruce Kings have allowed just 107 goals. Next closest are the Penticton Vees, who have given up 125 goals.
The blueline continues to be the backbone of the team and Maglio says 17-year-old Layton Ahac has raised his game a notch since he was chosen the most outstanding player for Team West in the CJHL Top Prospects Game a couple weeks ago in Okotoks, Alta.
"The Top Prospects game was huge for Layton and being the MVP, you're going to get confidence from that," said Maglio. "He deserved that and he has some swagger from that for sure. The Prospects game is bumping him up the ranks (of potential NHL draft picks)."
The top scoring line of Patrick Cozzi-Dustin Manz-Ben Brar continues to produce points and the addition of centre Lucas Vanroboys in a trade from Cowichan Valley has added key depth to the forward lines, playing with Tyler Schleppe and Corey Cunningham.
"He helps us up the middle with strength and he possesses the puck well and he has good hockey sense and good vision around the net," said Maglio.
Kings forward Nolan Welsh remains out with a concussion.