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Spruce Kings have Grizzlies in 3-0 series stranglehold

The Grizzlies take to the ice against the Powell River Kings in Game 7 of their BCHL second-round series at The Q Centre on March 25. With the team now down 3-0 to the Prince George Spruce Kings, Tuesday night’s game at The Q Centre could be the last time the current edition of the Grizzlies ever takes to the ice.

Brian Drewry / Times Colonist
APRIL 1, 2019 09:54 PM

The B.C. Hockey League’s top-ranked defence continues to smother the top-ranked offence.

The Prince George Spruce Kings used a stingy defence — five of their six defencemen are committed to NCAA schools for next fall — and solid netminding by Logan Neaton, also headed to the NCAA in the fall, to beat the Grizzlies 4-2 at The Q Centre on Monday and take a 3-0 series lead in the best-of-seven Coastal Conference final. Prince George improves to 11-1 in the post-season.

The Grizzlies will try to avoid elimination Tuesday night in Game 4, also at The Q Centre.

The Grizzlies, looking tired from a gruelling seven-game Island final against Powell River and a weekend trek to Prince George and back, were playing without injured veterans Marty Westhaver and Nico Somerville.

Victoria looked nothing like the team that led the BCHL in goals during the regular season. Prince George outshot Victoria 22-9 in the first period, but the game was scoreless after 20 minutes.

Grizzlies captain Alex Newhook, the BCHL regular-season scoring champion, helped inject some life into his team and the 1,354 fans in attendance, when he flew down the wing and set up Riley Hughes for an easy tap-in and an early second period 1-0 lead for the home team.

But the Spruce Kings, who finished second overall in the regular season and swept the league champion Chilliwack Chiefs in the second round, took 30 seconds to get that back thanks to Lucas Vanroboys. And P.G. kept coming. Layton Ahac and Nolan Welsh, shorthanded, scored two minutes apart midway through the second to give the Spruce Kings the lead.

The Grizzlies’ power play kept Victoria in it in the second, when Kyle McGrath fired a one-timer past Neaton to get Victoria within one. But three minutes into the third, Welsh struck again to send the Spruce Kings on their way.

Kurtis Chapman made 42 saves for the Grizzlies, while Neaton turned aside 27 Victoria shots.

If a fifth game is needed, it will be Thursday night in Prince George.

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