Neaton lands NCAA scholarship

He's the top-ranked goaltender in the B.C. Hockey League, and he's now property of the University of Massachusetts Lowell River Hawks of the NCAA.

Puckstopper Logan Neaton's commitment to the Hawks was announced Monday by his B.C. Hockey League team, the Prince George Spruce Kings. The 19-year-old Neaton will start his NCAA career next season.

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Neaton is in his first year with the Spruce Kings, after guarding the nets for the Fairbanks (Alaska) Ice Dogs of the North American Hockey League in 2017-18.

"We are extremely happy for Logan," said Kings general manager Mike Hawes, who acquired Neaton's services in a July future-considerations deal with the Ice Dogs. "When we began discussions with him last summer about coming to Prince George to be a Spruce King, achieving his goal of getting an NCAA Division 1 commitment was a large part of our conversations. I'm glad we were able to assist Logan in reaching this goal. He has proven that he is an elite goalie in our league and he is very deserving of this scholarship to a great school like UMass Lowell."

Neaton hails from Brighton, Mich. In 26 appearances with the Spruce Kings so far this season, he has a league-leading 19-4-0-0 record. Neaton also sports the lowest goals-against average, a mark of 1.97, and is second in save percentage (.915).

Neaton's BCHL success is a product of his preparation and his attention to detail, said Spruce Kings head coach Adam Maglio.

"He has a growth mindset and has developed into a top goalie in our league," Maglio said. "Logan is very deserving of this achievement."

Kings acquire DenBeste

Hawes has added a new piece to the Spruce Kings' roster, 19-year-old American forward Spencer DenBeste.

The six-foot-one DenBeste had been skating for the Springfield Jr. Blues of the NAHL and, this season, had notched four goals and four helpers in 24 games. In 65 career NAHL outings, he put up 13 goals and 12 assists.

For next season, DenBeste is committed to Lake Superior State University, where he will play alongside current King Dustin Manz.

"We are excited to add another veteran forward with a lot of character to our group," Hawes said. "Spencer plays hard in both ends of the ice and will add more speed to our lineup."

The first-overall Spruce Kings (23-8-1-2) will be in action Friday night at Rolling Mix Concrete Arena against the Surrey Eagles (7-24-1-2). The game is the team's annual Drop the Gloves and Sock it to Em night, where fans are asked to bring warm winter clothing (tuques, mitts, scarves and socks) in bags to throw onto the ice when the Kings score their first goal. The items will be donated to those in need in the community.

Game time is 7 p.m. The Kings and Eagles will also square off Saturday night.

Canada West perfect so far

Canada West, with Spruce Kings defenceman Layton Ahac on its roster, is off to a 2-0 start at the World Junior A Challenge in Bonnyville, Alta.

On Monday, Canada West skated to a 6-1 win against Canada East. On Sunday, opening day of the five-team tournament, Canada West downed the United States 2-1 in a shootout. So far, Ahac has been held off the scoresheet.

Canada West was idle on Tuesday but will take on Russia tonight. Russia also won its first two games, 5-3 over Canada East and 4-2 against the Czech Republic.

Canada West's final preliminary-round game is Thursday night against the Czech Republic. Playoffs start on Saturday and the champion will be determined on Sunday.

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