Manz's magic lifts Kings over Chiefs in Chilliwack

Dustin Manz always likes it when his parents from Michigan are in the building to watch him play hockey.

Friday night in Chilliwack, the Prince George Spruce Kings centre gave his folks several reasons to gush family pride when he scored three unanswered goals in a seven-minute span against the Chilliwack Chiefs.

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Manz's natural hat trick staked the Spruce Kings to a 4-0 lead in Game 1 of their B.C. Hockey League Mainland Division final series and they never looked back, spanking the Chiefs 7-0.

Logan Neaton made 19 saves for his first career BCHL playoff shutout.

The Spruce Kings set the tone early in a dominant opening period.

Ben Poisson had just put Prince George ahead 1-0 with a tip-in in front of the Chiefs' net 16 minutes into the first period when Manz scored his first of the game. Spencer DenBeste forced a turnover at centre ice and the puck came to Manz, who went wide around Alexander Marrocco and finished off the 2-on-2 rush by chipping a high shot in over the shoulder of Daniel Chenard.

Held to just two goals and four points in their five-game series win over Coquitlam, Manz and his linemates Ben Brar and Patrick Cozzi continued to expose some extremely loose defensive-zone coverage from the Chiefs in the second period.

Manz collected his second of the game and third of the season 58 seconds into the period, lifting a high backhander in behind Chenard. The onslaught continued 5:36 into the period when Manz scored his third of the night while shorthanded. He and Dylan Anhorn broke in on a 2-on-1 with Marcus Tesink the lone Chief defender and Manz took the pass and wristed in a shot in from the right side.

Nick Bochen made it 5-0 with a low shot from the point with 12:04 gone on the period and that meant an early shower for Chenard, who allowed five goals on 22 shots. Chenard's outstanding netminding as the BCHL's player of the week last week allowed the Chiefs to rebound from a 3-0 deficit and win the next four games to clinch their first-round against the Langley Rivermen.

That was all forgotten Friday night.

Nolan Hildebrand came in to replace Chenard, but the Kings did not let up.

Manz tested him on a penalty shot with three minutes left in the period after he took a slash on a breakaway from Harrison Blaisdell. Manz tried to deke for his fourth goal of the game but Hildebrand poke-checked the puck away.

Late in the period, Kings defenceman Anhorn scored his first two goals of the playoffs 92 seconds apart, both scored from the slot. At that stage the Kings had a 32-12 shot advantage heading into the second intermission.

The Kings played it safe in a scoreless third period and allowed just seven Chilliwack shots to get through to Neaton. They outshot the Chiefs 35-19 in the game.

The series resumes tonight in Chilliwack.

Games 3 and 4 will be played Monday and Tuesday in Prince George at Rolling Mix Concrete Arena. If the series is extended, Game 5 would be played Thursday in Chilliwack, Game 6 would be in Prince George the following Saturday and Game 7, if needed, is scheduled for Monday, March 25 in Chilliwack.

In other BCHL second-round openers Friday, the Cowichan Valley Capitals continued their surprising playoff run when they beat the Wenatchee Wild 3-2 in Wenatchee.

The Capitals, seeded 16th in the 17-team league, upset the third-seeded Penticton Vees in the opening round with a 4-1 series win.

The Trail Smoke Eaters defeated the Vernon Vipers 3-1 in Game 1 of their Interior Division semifinal Friday in Vernon, while in Victoria, the Grizzlies topped the Powell River Kings 4-1 in the opener of the Island Division final.

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