Being consistent in their inconsistencies is a path the Prince George Spruce Kings appear to be taking most weekends this season.
The B.C. Hockey League team picks up a win and follows it with a loss, a trend which Spruce Kings head coach and general manager Ed Dempsey would like to see change. Last weekend in the Okanagan, the Spruce Kings failed to build on a 4-1 victory versus the Penticton Vees on Saturday night, losing 3-1 the following afternoon against the Westside Warriors.
“I was really happy with getting the win in Penticton, but very frustrated with the loss in Westside the following afternoon,” Dempsey said. “[The] bottom line [is] that’s been one of our Achilles heels throughout the year. We play a great game one night and then we can’t seem to carry over the momentum to the following night and that’s disappointing. We’ve got to find a way to be able to do that if we’re going to be a good hockey club.”
Only one of the Spruce Kings’ eight victories this season has been followed by another win, a 4-3 overtime victory at home to Westside on Sept. 20. They won the following night, 6-1 over the Merritt Centennials before losing 5-3 to Westside on Sept. 22.
Dempsey is calling out on his leaders to start playing harder every game, beginning with Thursday’s game at the Prince George Coliseum versus the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
“[Our games are] all big,” Dempsey said. “That’s the frustrating part. We’re so close to breaking through. I’ve got to get everyone to buy in, especially our older guys and we’re right there.”
In the Spruce Kings’ last game, Jordy Christian opened the scoring at the 6:17 mark of the second period to give Prince George the lead.
Westside Warriors defenceman Cory Pritz tied the game about seven minutes later. Chris Zaires found the back of the net six minutes into the third period for the game winning tally, and Pritz rounded out the scoring with his second of the game into an empty net in the final minute of play.
All goals were scored at even strength as the Spruce Kings were zero-for-five on the powerplay, while Westside failed to score on four man advantage opportunities. The shots were 31-30 in favour of the Warriors and Damien Ketlo, named first star in the victory at Penticton the night before, took the loss in goal.
“[Ketlo] really had a solid afternoon Sunday in Westside and he gave us more than an adequate chance to win and that’s all you can really ask for your goaltender,” Dempsey said.
In Saturday’s victory, four different Spruce Kings found the back of the net – Dan Correale, Joe Morgan, Zach Davies and Christian. Austin Smith replied for the Vees. Bryan Mountain started the game in goal for the Vees, but was replaced in favour of Alex Evin to start the third period after allowing three goals on 27 shots.
The Spruce Kings’ latest addition, 17-year-old goalie Kevin Genoe, joined the club on its latest road trip. Genoe was added to the Kings’ lineup to replace the struggling Shane Mainprize.
Following the Salmon Arm game the Spruce Kings have a home-and-home set with the Quesnel Millionaires, Saturday in Quesnel and next Tuesday in Prince George.