Did the Prince George Spruce Kings have a successful season?
That depends on one’s perspective.
There are many reasons to suggest “Yes” but there are also facts to indicate “No”.
Let’s start with the Glass Half Full.
–The Spruce Kings improved 22 points in the standings going from a 14-38-4-2 record in 2015-16 to a 25-27-4-2 mark in 2016-17.
–The team qualified for the playoffs unlike last year.
–The Spruce Kings put up a gallant effort against the BCHL’s best regular season team, coming up a minute short of forcing a game seven against the Wenatchee Wild.
–Some of their players enjoyed individual success:
P.G. Top Scorer = 20-year-old Brett Mennear, 25 goals & 54 assists (79 points) was 4th in the BCHL scoring race.
P.G. Top Defenceman = 20-year-old Tyler Anderson, 18 goals & 31 assists (49 points) was nominated for the top D award (which went to Jake Stevens of Victoria). Anderson was first in goals and third in points among all defencemen.
P.G. Top Rookie = 20-year-old Chong Hyun Lee, 15 goals & 21 assists (36 points) was 17th in first year scoring but was in the top 10 of all freshmen in points per game (0.80).
–The team’s average attendance went up slightly from 999 fans per game in 2015-16 to 1,014 in 2016-17.
Naturally, a cynic may look with the Glass Half Empty.
–The Spruce Kings lost more games than they won and only finished 4th in the Mainland Division ahead of the two worst teams in the league, Surrey (40 points) and Coquitlam (25 points).
–The team had an epic meltdown in their last game of the season which was played in Wenatchee. Up 3-1 after two and up 3-2 late in the game, the Spruce Kings surrendered two goals in the final minute to drop game six 4-3 and the series 4-2.
–The average attendance in the playoffs (965) was below their regular season mark. In the three home post-season games at the RMCA the attendance figures were 812 (March 7th), 874 (March 8th) and 1,209 (March 10th).
It is undisputed that the Spruce Kings were better than they were the previous season.
They were considerably better against Wenatchee in the playoffs than the regular season where the Wild won all seven by a combined 46-13 score.
Yes, the Spruce Kings can certainly hold their heads high for their battle, competitiveness and tenacity against a much deeper Wild team that finished a whopping 38 points ahead of them in the standings.
One could only imagine though how difficult it’s been for the players, coaches, team personnel and their fans to have endured that last bitter defeat.
Being so close usually hurts the most.
The Kamloops Blazers know they will either face the Prince George Cougars or the Kelowna Rockets in the first round of the WHL playoffs.
The Blazers will have a say on their possible opponent when they complete the regular season with a home and home against the Cougars: tonight (Friday) in Kamloops and Saturday at CN Centre.
I’m not sure Kamloops has a preference.
The last time the Blazers met the Rockets, Kelowna won convincingly 8-2, February 24th in Kamloops.
The last time the Blazers faced the Cougars, Prince George won handily 6-1 on March 4th, a day after the Cats doubled Kamloops 8-4.
Overall this season, the Blazers have had more success against Kelowna going 6-3-0-1. Kamloops is 2-4 against Prince George.
The Cougars have enormous incentive going into the final weekend of the regular season in search of their first BC Division banner.
Prince George is two points ahead of 2nd place Kelowna while the Rockets are three in front of Kamloops.
The Blazers have very little to play for since they are likely to end up 3rd in the Division.
(There is a remote chance Kamloops could move up to 2nd but they would need to sweep the Cougars and have the Rockets lose twice to the last place Vancouver Giants which is a highly unlikely scenario).
Considering the dislike for Cougars and the fact they got walloped in their last two meetings against P.G., I doubt the Blazers will roll over in these last two games.
In other words, Kamloops would enjoy crashing the Cougars party which just adds to the intrigue and dynamics of these final games prior to the playoffs.
From the Quote Rack:
Five reasons the Prince George Cougars’ lumberjack-themed game was a success:
5. The opposition got cut down;
4. The Cougars laid on the lumber;
3. Egos were checkered at the door;
2. Key players logged ice time;
1. The team plaid hard.
Comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com
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Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon
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Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com
Wow, Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval has sure lost a lot of weight. There hasn’t been shrinkage like that since Russia became the Federation and lost all the Republiks.
Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California
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Comedy writer Tony Chong of Vancouver
In the U.K., a group of scientists successfully taught bumblebees how to play soccer. And now,
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Conan O’Brien of TBS
And in case you missed it:
A Men’s Health magazine published a study claiming that, for men, having sex burns the same amount of calories as running six miles. That’s so ridiculous. Nobody has ever run six miles in 30 seconds.
Comedian Argus Hamilton
Hartley Miller is the sports director and morning news anchor for 94.3 the Goat.
He also is the 94.3 radio color commentator for P.G. Cougars home games.
His column appears Fridays on myprincegeorgenow.com.
Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow him on twitter: @Hartley_Miller