The Prince George Spruce Kings have a simple battle plan for the coming three-game road weekend in the B.C. Hockey League.
We have to circle the wagons and hope we get a few goals, coach Dave Dupas says of the upcoming trip. It couldnt have come at a worse time for us.
With Brent Lashek already out of the lineup with a concussion, the Spruce Kings lost Jake LeBrun partway through a 3-0 home-ice win Friday over the Vernon Vipers. LeBrun was checked headfirst into the boards by one of the Vipers, and has also been diagnosed with a concussion.
Those are two of the guys on our top line, Dupas says. It cant possibly help us to have both of them out of the lineup.
Somebody else is going to have to step up.
It wouldnt have been the easiest weekend to start with for the Spruce Kings, and being shorthanded offensively wont help. The Kings were in Merritt on Thursday, and play Penticton on Friday and West Kelowna on Saturday. Their opponents are the top three teams in the Interior Division and, Dupas says, they may be the three best teams in the league.
Its never, ever easy going into Merritt. Its always tough to win there. Penticton is the same, very rarely do teams get out of there with a win, and West Kelowna is probably the best team in the league right now.
If there is any good news for the Spruce Kings heading into the three games, its that the circle the wagons strategy is one theyve already been playing.
We did it against Victoria on Saturday (a 1-0 loss) and held our own against a very high-powered team. We held them, and we just didnt get any goals.
They need more of the same on defense this weekend, and they need someone to put the puck in the net.
I cant see us getting five or six goals in a game right now, so we need to play good defensively. And we need guys to step up on offense. Guys who havent gotten powerplay time this season are going to get it.
Dupas says the losses of Lashek and LeBrun doesnt just mean having to juggle lines.
You cant replace those guys. Not only are they two of our top scorers, theyre also big bodies who spend a lot of time in the other teams end. If the pucks in that end, its going to be tough for them to score on us.
He says there is one other thing he is going to be preaching to his team as they head south for the three games.
Our penalty-killing is really good, its saved us in some games, but we cant play with fire in these games.
Good penalties, you have to take them, but we cant afford to take any lazy penalties.
Its another three-game road weekend the following weekend for the Spruce Kings, as they play a pair of games in Surrey on Oct. 18 and 19, then play Langley on Oct. 20. The next home game is Oct. 24, when they host Merritt at the Coliseum.