Spruce Kings pull away to defeat Blades

By Jason La Rose, Hockey Canada

BROOKS, Alta. Chong Min Lee, Patrick Cozzi and Ben Poisson scored goals in the decisive second period, and the Prince George Spruce Kings (BCHL) scored five times unanswered to earn a 5-1 win over the Oakville Blades (OJHL) on Sunday afternoon at the 2019 National Junior A Championship.

The Spruce Kings dominated the middle frame, outshooting Oakville 20-3 and turning a one-goal deficit into a two-goal lead before the end of 40 minutes.

Jay Keranen and Nicholas Poisson had the other goals for Prince George, which evened its record at the Centennial Regional Arena to 2-2 this season – it opened the Doyle Cup with three games in Brooks against the hometown Bandits.

A penalty-filled first period (the teams combined for 11 minors) produced only a single goal. The Blades worked the puck around on a late-period power play before captain Peyton Reeves wired a wrist shot upstairs on the short side past Spruce Kings goaltender Logan Neaton.

But it was all Prince George from there. Lee pulled the Pacific Region champions even just 2:06 into the middle frame, swatting in a rebound on his backhand, and Cozzi got a piece of a Dylan Anhorn shot just over three minutes later to put the Spruce Kings ahead for good.

Ben Poisson made it 3-1 midway through the second, snapping a quick one-timer past Oakville netminder Will Barber on the power play.

Keranan added a fourth goal in the first minute of the third period with a wrist shot through traffic, before Nicholas Poisson beat Barber with an off-speed one-timer for another man-advantage goal and a 5-1 lead.

That was all for Barber, who allowed five goals on 39 shots. Chris Elliot made two saves the rest of the way.

The Blades, who have allowed 12 goals in two games, will try to regroup on an off-day Monday, while the Spruce Kings, who improved to 21-3 in the playoffs, will look to keep their roll going against the Ottawa Jr. A Senators (CCHL) (7 p.m. MT).

Photo credit: Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada Images