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Game Day: Caps Host Spruce Kings on Teddy Bear Toss Night

The Capitals will look to head into the holiday break with five wins in their past six, which they’ll have a chance to do when they host the Prince George Spruce Kings at the Island Savings Centre tonight.

Cowichan (18-14-2-2, 3rd Island) is coming off a 2-0 win over the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Wednesday night, the first time the team has shutout an opponent this season. The game would be scoreless until the final four minutes of regulation: Trevor Ayre got the Caps on the board with 3:40 to go, and that would prove to be the game-winner as Max Newton would score his team-leading 18th goal into an empty net with eight second remaining. Lane Michasiw earned the third shutout of his BCHL career, stopping all 38 shots he faced. In a penalty-filled game, the Caps would go 0-6 on the powerplay, while the Bulldogs were 0-5 on the man-advantage.

Prince George (16-12-2-2, 3rd Mainland), is in the middle of a three-in-three road trip before their holiday break, which began with a 7-3 win against the Coquitlam Express last night at the Poirier Sport & Leisure Centre (I was informed that the 8-3 final score on the league website was incorrect, as PG’s fifth goal was a mystery). The Spruce Kings would score two in the first, two in the second and three in the third, knocking off an Express team that dressed only 11 regular skaters and had 10 scratches (nine injuries, one at WJAC). Prince George rookie Ethan de Jong’s shorthanded goal in the second period would make it a 4-0 game, and would be the eventual game-winning goal for the visitors. Drew Lennon (1-1-2) and captain Brett Mennear (2-1-3) each had multi-point games for the Spruce Kings, and AP Chong Min Lee had his first BCHL goal. Goalie Tavin Grant stopped 21 of 24 shots to earn his ninth win on the year.

Tonight is just the Spruce Kings’ 10th road game of the season, as they’ve played 23 of 32 games at home. They’ll play back-to-back home games on Dec 29 and 30, meaning only four of their 22 games in the new year will be played at home. The team will also be on the road for 14 of their final 15 games on the year. Prince George was 5-2-1-0 on a recent eight-game home stand from Nov 18 – Dec 9; they also had a separate seven-game homestand earlier in the season.

Tonight’s contest is the second and final regular season meeting this year between these clubs. The Spruce Kings earned a win in their building, the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena, back on Sep 30 by a 5-3 score. With the score tied late, it was an ex-Capital in Connor Russell who scored the go-ahead-goal with exactly 2:00 left to play in the third period; the Spruce Kings would add an empty-netter a minute later for some insurance.

Puck drop tonight at the Island Savings Centre is at 7:00 pm.

(Don’t forget to bring your teddy to throw on the ice when the Caps score their first goal, and be sure to bring a non-perishable food donation as the team will have its turn of the BCHL’s Five-Hole-for-Food Challenge).

Who’s Hot:

Capitals: Goalie Lane Michasiw has stopped 75 of 76 shots in his past two games, and recorded his first shutout of the season in his last start. Both of the Caps netminders have been strong, as Adam Marcoux  has won three straight starts and has stopped 134 of 143 shots in those games. Trevor Ayre has four goals and one assist in his past four games, and has game-winning-goals in back-to-back Capitals games. Captain Chris Harpur has a three-game point streak come to an end on Wednesday night.

Spruce Kings: Captain Brett Mennear has points in three of his past four games, and has 18 points in his past nine games. Tyler Anderson had a five-game point streak end on Friday night; he has points in nine of past 11 games and leads all BCHL defensemen in goals (9). Jarod Hovde has four points in his past three games.

Did You Know?: Marshall Skapski had his first point as a Capital on Wednesday night in his sixth game… After 12 goals in his first 29 games, Max Newton already has six goals in seven games in the “second half”; Trevor Ayre (4) and Jared Domin (3) also have at least three in the past seven games… The Caps have allowed only one goal in their past two games; the lowest total previously in any two-game span this season was four goals allowed… The Capitals are 4-4-0-0 against Mainland Division opponents this year and 8-7-1-2 at home… Cowichan is a perfect 9-9 on the penalty kill in its past two games… With Wednesday night’s win, the Caps are 16-5-0-2 when allowing three goals or less, and also improved to 9-3-0-1 when tied after one period, and 5-1-1-1 when tied after two…

Game notes provided by Colton Davies of 89.7 Juice FM.