HIRING: INTERN, HOCKEY OPERATIONS
Date: Oct 17, 2019
The Oakville Blades fell to the Prince George Spruce Kings at the National Jr. A Championships in Brooks, Alberta on Sunday. (Hockey Canada photo)
By Ron Valentine
In the Mother's Day matinee at the National Junior A Championships in Brooks, Alberta, the Oakville Blades were looking for a better result as they lined up for Game 2 of the Cup. Their opponents in this one being the Prince George Spruce Kings who finished their regular BCHL season in the Mainland Division in second place, just one point behind the Chilliwack Chiefs but second overall in the League on points (84).
There are two Ontario-born players on the Spruce Kings: Max Coyle, a defenceman from Tillsonburg who played three GOJHL seasons with the Listowel Cyclones, who, in 2017 were semifinalists for the Sutherland Cup. Max will attend the Alabama-Huntsville next season. Forward Lucas Vanroboys who hails from Thamesville. Before joining the Kings midway through the season, he played for the Nanaimo Clippers and the Cowichan Valley Capitals in Duncan B.C.
Oakville Head Coach Mike Tarantino had this to say about his team’s Game 1 ioss to the hosts: "It was a very fast game last night. They came out and carried the play and capitalized on the chances they got. We adjusted after the first period but being down three to a good team is tough to come back from. Today is Prince George's first game and we are on a short rest. They are a good team who perhaps has more speed than Brooks and it will be a challenge for our group."
OAKVILLE GM Jordan Selinger: "Both (Head Coach) Mike and Mark Edwards (Director of analytics) said our game was at least 40 per cent faster than the Ottawa/Portage contest. We know the pace we need to play at. I'm hoping we don't run out of gas because of the quick turnaround, but we will be much better prepared for their speed."
One change for the Blades with Alton McDermott coming in for Tanner McEachern up front. Their starting lineup was Will Barber in net, Jack Lyons and Garret Pyke on defense and the forward line of Jack Ricketts, Peyton Reeeves and Thomas Maia. For Prince George Logan Neaton in the net, on the blueline Coyle and Layton Ahac and the front three of Dustin Manz, Patrick Cozzi and Benjamin Brar. Neaton is committed to UMass-Lowell; Ahac to Ohio State; Manz to Lake Superior State; Cozzi to Colorado College and Brar to Merrimack.
Back-to-back hooking calls at the halfway mark of the opening period put the Blades behind the 8-ball, being two short for over a minute but the Prince George powerplay, which struggled in the Doyle Cup against Brooks, could not open their account.
The Blades did get on the board first though as they capitalized on a ..you guessed it..hooking penalty to the Kings at 13.59 as Peyton Reeves netted a snapshot from the left wing. Reeves had 10 goals with the man-advantage in the OJHL regular season and payoffs. It was almost two-nil shortly after as Harrison Israels saw his shot come back off the goalpost. A strong showing in the first period by Barber (he made 14 saves) in a first frame that suffered a little in momentum due to the tightness of the officiating. 1-0 Oakville after one, a better place for them than Saturday night for sure. Perhaps the Spruce Kings needed that first period under their belts as they had not played since May 4.
The second stanza started well for the BCHL club as Chong Min Lee potted a backhand from close in. Of South Korean extraction, Lee really came through in their playoffs with 13 points in 17 games. A re-direction of a Dylan Anhorn by Cozzi put the Spruce Kings ahead just past the five minute mark. A powerplay goal by captain Ben Poisson made it a 3-1 scoreline at 10:55 and that would be the score heading into the final 20 minutes.
Prince George wasted little time making if four when Jay Keranen scored 31 seconds into the third. The blueliner from Michigan had just two in his regular and playoff campaigns. A one-timer from Poisson from an acute angle on the powerplay halfway through the period added to the Kings' lead. Chris Elliot then finished up the game in the Blades' net. Final 5-1 Prince George. Oakville took nine of the sixteen minor penalties called and were outshot 41-21. Min Lee was named player of the game for the Spruce Kings and for the Blades it was Israels.
Monday will be a rest day for the Blades before facing off with Portage on Tuesday and Ottawa on Thursday. Both are afternoon games. The game against the Terriers looms large as they will need a win to keeps hopes alive of a semi-final position. The club has now completed its games against what most see as the two toughest teams in the competition.
The top four teams in the tournament round-robin qualify for the semifinals Saturday. The final will be played Sunday, May 19, at 5 p.m. EDT.
All preliminary round and semifinals will be streamed live on HockeyCanada.ca. The championship game will be broadcast on TSN and streamed on TSN.ca
All Blades games at the nationals are being broadcast on Oakville Blades Radio. Listen at oakvilleblades.ca