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First BCHL title, National Championship berth within Prince George Spruce Kings' grasp

‘Kings edge Vernon Vipers in overtime to take 3-0 Fred Page Cup Finals lead
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Captain Ben Poisson was captain clutch once again.

For a second time in the 2018-19 B.C. Hockey League (BCHL) playoffs, the 20-year-old veteran potted an overtime winner while on the road.

On Tuesday night (April 16), the Prince George Spruce Kings won 4-3 in the extra frame over Vernon to take a 3-0 Fred Page Cup Finals lead on the Vipers and are one win away from claiming their first league championship in franchise history.

This is the third straight playoff series this year where the red, white, and blue have won the first three games.

Also, Prince George will have a lot more to play for now because, as of yesterday’s conclusion of the Alberta Junior League Finals (AJHL), they are just one win away from going to the National Junior ‘A’ Championship.

The Brooks Bandits swept the Spruce Grove Saints 4-0 to win the AJHL title, but since they already got an invite by default of them being the national tournament hosts, this means the winner of the BCHL will punch an automatic ticket to the big dance.

Both league playoff winners will still compete in the annual Doyle Cup for a chance to add ‘regional champions’ to the resume, but regardless of what happens, they will meet each other again in southeastern Alberta for the five-team championship.

In Vernon, goaltender Logan Neaton was dominant as he faced 47 shots from the Vipers, stopping 44 of them, bringing his save-count to 94 through three tilts; this was also the third game of the playoffs when the Spruce Kings were outshot by their opponent.

The American import continues to lead BCHL playoff stats with 15 wins, a 1.49 goals-against-average (GAA), and a 0.939 save-percentage (SV%).

Poisson, Nick Poisson, and Layton Ahac each recorded two points in the Game Three victory.

Prince George enjoyed leads of 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2 throughout the contest as Vernon provided a tying marker on all three occasions.

Corey Cunningham, Max Coyle, and the Poisson brothers were the goal-scorers.

The Spruce Kings will have a chance to win the Fred Page Cup tonight, with Game Four starting at 7 p.m. from Kal Tire Place.

If the Vipers stave off elimination and pull out a win on home ice, the series will shift back to Prince George for Game Five on Friday (April 19) at the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena (RMCA).




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Kyle  Balzer

About the Author: Kyle Balzer

Kyle Balzer graduated with distinction from BCIT's Broadcast & Online Journalism program in 2016. Since moving to Prince George, he has covered a variety of stories from education & Indigenous relations, to community interests & sports.
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