The regional championship banner is within an arm’s reach for the Prince George Spruce Kings.
Luckily, the arm of goaltender Logan Neaton made some impressive saves Thursday night (May 2) when it needed to, helping the ‘Kings get the Game Five win at the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena (RMCA) by a score of 4-1 and tilt the Doyle Cup series in their favour with the 3-2 advantage on Brooks.
The American import made 25 saves on 26 shots in his 22nd consecutive post-season start between the pipes and, believe it or not, he says he’s not getting tired at all.
“We do a really good job at getting the rest we need to,” said Neaton after the victory. “We’re really focused on resting and recovering. We have a bit amount of time off normally between games obviously. But honestly, this is fun! This is the best time of year, we’re playing hockey in May, and you can’t ask for anything more than that, so I’m more excited than tired for sure.”
While his back-up tendy Keenan Rancier hasn’t seen a game in the playoffs, Neaton says he has been very helpful from the bench.
He credits the Victoria native from helping him Thursday after giving up the 1-1 tying goal late in th second period, and throughout all the playoffs, and is grateful to have those second set of eyes.
“That’s the beauty of every goaltending partner,” he explained. “In between periods, I go to him and ask ‘Hey, what are you seeing there?’ and he would say what he sees from the bench, saying stuff like, ‘Yeah he’s using the net front guy as a screen, and he’s trying to go far side.’ Things like that where he gets the other vantage point; maybe there’s so much traffic going on that he gets another viewpoint, and then we bounce ideas off of each other. It’s good to have a partner to hash things out with.”
Prince George managed to strike first with under six minutes left in the opening frame of Game Five thanks to Patrick Cozzi, his second goal in as many nights, before the Bandits tied it up in the next period.
Captain Ben Poisson quickly answered 58 seconds later with the go-ahead marker and the 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.
Local product Corey Cunningham brought the RMCA back to life, establishing a two-goal advantage just after the halfway point of the third period, forcing the visitors to retaliate physically.
As a result of multiple penalties, Cozzi got his second point of the night by potting a power-play goal with under seven minutes left.
“I don’t think they’re used to seeing such rowdy fans,” said Cozzi about the loudness of the home barn, “I really like our atmosphere here, so we just got to keep playing the way we’re playing, and the fans are doing an unreal job getting under their skin.”
After more scraps ensured in the final minute of regulation, Prince George would hang on for the 4-1 score and are just one win away from hoisting their first ever Doyle Cup.
This was the 17th home win in a row for the Spruce Kings having not lost a game at the RMCA in all of 2019.
In order to close out the series this weekend against the National Junior ‘A’ Championship hosts, Cozzi thinks it’ll come down to how much will his team has to win it all.
“There’s a lot of chirping between us, it definitely feels like a playoff atmosphere, but it’s also a lot of fun. We just need to keep doing what we’re doing and we’re getting good results. Everyone is playing really well, everyone is competing and playing physical, and we just need to bring it on Saturday.”
Prince George may have to 'use the force' to win the Doyle Cup.
With that being said, Game Six goes for Saturday night (May 4), 7 p.m. at the RMCA.
If the force favours Brooks and they force a seventh and deciding contest, that will be played on Sunday (May 5), also at 7 p.m.
Patrick Cozzi scores another beauty for the @SpruceKings (his third in the last two games) and PG skates to a 4-1 win to retake the #DoyleCup series lead! Game 6 goes Saturday back in PG! pic.twitter.com/LzAt6J1dwu— BC Hockey League (@GoBCHL) May 3, 2019