The re-match of the Doyle Cup series Thursday night (May 16) favoured the Brooks Bandits.
The Prince George Spruce Kings gave up a critical goal in the third period, followed by an empty-netter, falling to the hosts of the 2019 National Junior ‘A’ Championship 3-1 and finishing round-robin play in second place with a record of the same score (3-1).
Hosts came back in black 😬 @SpruceKings lose 3-1 to the @BrooksBandits in the last game of the 2019 @HC_NJAC round-robin. Prince George finishes 2nd with 3-1 record & will play @OakvilleBlades in the semi-finals on Saturday | #CityOfPG @GoBCHL @PGMatters pic.twitter.com/HOYocvyEyc— Kyle Balzer (@KyleBalzer) May 17, 2019
“I think sometimes you need [the loss] to get better in a tournament,” said Spruce Kings Head Coach Adam Maglio in a statement after the loss. “I’m sure our guys will come out firing on Saturday, they’re not happy with that loss. I thought our execution wasn’t great tonight, but we’ll move on.”
As a result, the red, white, and blue will meet with the other red, white, and blue sweaters in the tournament semi-finals.
The Oakville Blades won their game earlier in the afternoon 7-4 over Ottawa to claim the third-place spot in the standings.
Goaltender Logan Neaton made 28 saves on 30 shots against the Alberta League champions, while Pierce Charleson earned some redemption of his own by stopping 21 of 22 shots, getting his first win against Prince George in three games.
Brooks opened the scoring in the final moments of the first period, carrying a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Nick Poisson, the Spruce Kings’ player of the game, capitalized on another open opportunity tying the game at 1-1 with 67 seconds left in the second stanza.
The 17-year-old scored on goal in each of the four preliminary games for Prince George, matching the four lamps he lit in 17 B.C. Hockey League (BCHL) playoff games prior to the tournament.
The Bandits took advantage of a loose puck in front of Neaton’s net to sneak a 2-1 lead over seven minutes into the third period.
A power-play with 1:06 left in regulation for the ‘Kings put them in a six-on-four situation and a chance to send Brooks into overtime in front of over 2,100 fans.
However, Brandon Scanlin intercepted a pass and sent the puck down 200 feet into the open cage to clinch first place and the 3-1 victory over Prince George.
The Bandits have chosen to play in the first semi-final contest on Saturday (1 p.m. Pacific).
This means the Spruce Kings will play in the second semi at 6 p.m. Pacific against Oakville on the same day.
The winners of both semi-final matches will meet in the championship final on Sunday at 2 p.m. Pacific.
Prince George hasn’t played the Central Region champions since the Nationals opener on Sunday (May 13), in which they won in convincing fashion by a score of 5-1.
The Spruce Kings gave up the first goal of that contest as well, but surged back with two goals in each of the final two periods.
Oakville has won two games in a row after losing the first two of the tournament.
The @HC_NJAC semifinals are set for Saturday. @BrooksBandits (@TheAJHL) vs. @OttawaJrSens (@theCCHL) at 2 p.m. MT/4 p.m. ET and @SpruceKings (@GoBCHL) vs. @OakvilleBlades (@OJHLOfficial) at 7 p.m. MT/9 p.m. ET. pic.twitter.com/NTTOd0e30R— CJHL (@cjhlhockey) May 17, 2019