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BCHL Playoffs: Grizzlies improve, but Spruce Kings reign again

Brian Drewry / Times Colonist
MARCH 30, 2019 10:14 PM

PRINCE GEORGE 4
VICTORIA 2
Prince George leads series 2-0

The Victoria Grizzlies had a better effort in Game 2 on Saturday night in Prince George, but it still wasn’t enough to cool off the red-hot Spruce Kings.

The Grizzlies took an early lead at Rolling Mix Concrete Arena, but ran into penalty trouble in the second and couldn’t recover, dropping a 4-2 decision to the Spruce Kings, who now take a 2-0 series lead into Victoria for Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Tuesday at The Q Centre.

After New York Rangers draft pick Riley Hughes struck on a power play six minutes into the first period to give the Grizzlies the lead going into the intermission, Corey Cunningham scored just two minutes into the second to bring the near-capacity crowd of 1,966 fans to life.

Thanks to a parade to the penalty box in the middle frame — Prince George had four power plays in the period — the Grizzlies’ offence couldn’t get going. And on their fourth power play of the period, Dustin Manns beat Kurtis Chapman to give the Spruce Kings the lead and pave the way to Prince George’s seventh straight playoff win on home ice.

Cam Thompson struck on a Grizzlies power play to briefly tie the game with five minutes left in the middle period, but two minutes later, Cunningham struck again to end any momentum the Grizzlies had gained.

Manns added a breakaway goal midway through the third period to put the game on ice for the Spruce Kings.

Already without injured defenceman Nico Somerville and assistant captain Ryan Nolan (suspended), the Grizzlies lost winger Marty Westhaver early in the third period to an upper-body injury after he was hit by Spruce Kings forward Ben Williams.

The good news for the Grizzlies is Somerville should be ready to go for Game 3 and Nolan returns having served the last of his three-game suspension.

Chapman made 25 saves for Victoria, while Logan Neaton made 19 saves in the Prince George net.

The Grizzlies were 2-for-3 on the power play, while the Spruce Kings were 1-for-7.

LOOSE PUCKS: In the other BCHL semifinal series, the Vernon Vipers defeated the Wenatchee Wild 4-3 in overtime in Game 1 of their best-of-seven set. Game 2 goes today.

bdrewry@timescolonist.com

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