If the City of Prince George honoured a team of the year, the Spruce Kings would be hands down winners, even though there’s still more than eight months remaining in 2018.
Other than winning the Fred Page Cup, the Spruce Kings treated their fans to a memorable season, one in which may not be topped in the foreseeable future.
They may not have had the most talent in the BCHL, but the team featured intangibles that are crucial to success.
Heart, tenacity, perseverance, persistence, and intestinal fortitude fit the description of the 2017-18 Spruce Kings, who improved a whopping 18 points from the previous season, going from fourth in the Mainland Division to first.
While goaltender Evan DeBrouwer and top-scorer Ethan de Jong played major roles in reaching the Finals, the supporting cast rallied together, playing at peak efficiency at the most important time of the year.
DeBrouwer gave PG consistency at the most important position while playing every minute of the 24 games.
He finished with the second-best goals-against-average (GAA) in the BCHL playoffs at 2.12, to go along with an impressive 0.925 save-percentage (SV%).
Goaltender Evan DeBrouwer:
-26-14 Record, 2.24 GAA, .920 Sv%
-13-11, 2.12 GAA, .925 SV%
Total saves in 2017/2018 – 1825
Committed to Arizona State University for 2018/2019 pic.twitter.com/zlSzcGN1jq
— Spruce Kings (@SpruceKings) April 20, 2018
de Jong was third in post-season scoring with 27 points (13G, 14A) in 24 games.
It was special when the Spruce Kings won their division in the regular season for the first time in 22 years since joining the league.
This accomplishment stands out much more because it was followed by a playoff run where the team bonded, and as a group, performed to the maximum of its ability.
Prior to Thursday’s season ending 3-0 loss in Wenatchee, Prince George was 5-0 in the playoffs when facing elimination.
The Spruce Kings small archaic building gave them a true home ice advantage.
They were 22-5-1-1 at home in the regular season, only behind Wenatchee (24-4-1).
In addition, Prince George was 10-3 at the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena (RMCA) in the playoffs, again only back of Wenatchee (11-0).
The fans responded, gladly willing to pay full price of $15 a ticket ($12 Students and Seniors) to enjoy April hockey.
The last six home games had crowds in excess of 1,800, which is the amount of seats in the building.
Standing room only attendance of more than 2,000 occurred on four occasions.
Over 13 home games, the Spruce Kings averaged 1,635 fans, nearly double the regular season average of 888.
There were more PG Cougars fans seen at the RMCA over the last few weeks than ever before.
Like everyone else, those Cougars fans were impressed by how well the Spruce Kings embraced the pressure of playoff hockey.
There are some that believe second best, while impressive out of 17 teams, still falls short of the ultimate goal.
I think it is fair to suggest that Wenatchee deserved its first championship with a more talented team.
However, the Spruce Kings can be proud of their efforts, knowing they had nothing more to give (while being held to just eight shots in their last game).
They excited themselves, their fans and the City and went out on top at home, winning their last game at the RMCA 4-2 on Tuesday, to the delight of 2,112 appreciative fans, where every ticket, including standing room, was gobbled up.
This is what playoff hockey is all about.
With many returning players, the Spruce Kings should ice another good team next season, but the positive memories of this season will be fondly remembered for many years to come.
Yes, these Kings held nothing back in delivering one ROYAL run.
FROM THE QUOTE RACK:
Quarterback Mark Sanchez has been suspended for the first four games of the 2018 NFL season for Performance Enhancing Drug use. Well, whatever he took, it didn’t work.
*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com
Among this year’s Kentucky Derby hopefuls: an England-based thoroughbred named Gronkowski. No problem spotting him: He’s the only horse who spikes his jockey.”
*Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times http://www.seattletimes.com/author/dwight-perry/
The Oakland A’s expect a full house of 65,000 at a free game this week. The sad part is the paid attendance will be exactly the same as all their other home games.
*Comedy writer Jim Barach of WCHS-TV in Charleston, W.Va., http://jokesbyjim.blogspot.ca/
The attendance at a recent Tampa Bay Rays vs. Chicago White Sox game was 974. How did they get that many people? asked Miami Marlins executives.
*Comedy writer TC Chong of Vancouver
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Joe Polo, fifth on the U.S. gold-medal curling team, named his daughter Ailsa after a Scottish island that produces the stone for curling rocks. The kid already feels taken for granite.
*Comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com
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 email@example.com
Follow him on Twitter: @Hartley_Miller