The last time the Prince George Spruce Kings played an opponent coming off a 7-game series, they swept them.

While the Spruce Kings dominated Chilliwack in the previous round, winning four straight and outscoring the Chiefs 21-3 in the process, the task will be much more difficult against the Victoria Grizzlies.

The Chiefs were coming off a game seven victory (over the Langley Rivermen) and had no gas left in the tank by the time they faced a hungry motivated P.G. team.

Chilliwack spent all of its energy after losing the first three games of the series against the Rivermen.

While the Spruce Kings have enjoyed a 10-game break since disposing of the defending RBC national champions, the Grizzlies needed to go the full seven, knocking out the Powell River Kings by a 6-1 score on Monday in the Island Division Final.

Victoria though never had to erase a 3-0 games deficit and responded very well to the pressure when facing elimination for the first time.

Tiredness should not be a consideration when the Grizzlies and Spruce Kings play four games in five nights to start their Coastal Conference championship series.

Victoria has played 11 games and P.G. 9 in the post-season.

The Grizzlies swept the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 4-0 in the first round while the Spruce Kings needed five games in the opening round to eliminate the Coquitlam Express.

The BCHL playoff brackets are right here.

This should be a classic series of a team loaded on offence against a stingy team on defence.

The Grizzlies scored more goals in the regular season (231 in 58 games compared to PG’s 181) than any other BCHL team.

The Spruce Kings gave up the fewest (a paltry 120 compared to Victoria’s 188).

Prince George allowed just 68 shots against (17 a game) in the Chilliwack Mainland Division Final.

Both Victoria and P.G. have a marquee goalie.

Logan Neaton (19) of the Spruce Kings entered the BCHL record books by recording a league-best 1.92 goals-against average, the seventh-best mark in a single season, while his five shutouts were tied for sixth-best in history.

Grizzlies netminder Kurtis Chapman (21) posted a .933 save percentage to lead the league, tying him for the third-best number in a single BCHL season.

Both goalies have carried their stellar play into the postseason, each recording two shutouts.

Neaton leads the playoffs with a .940 save percentage and a 1.29 goals-against average, while Chapman’s save percentage is .929 and his goals-against average is 2.26.

Victoria has four players ranked among North Americans skaters by NHL Central Scouting led by league MVP Alex Newhook (#16).

Newhook has 18 points (9 goals) in 11 playoff games after racking up 102 points (38 goals) in 53 games.

Others are Alexander Campbell (#42-BCHL Rookie of the Year), Jeremie Bucheler (#113), Carter Berger (#181).

Prince George defenceman Layton Ahac is listed at #114.

Grizzlies forward Riley Hughes is the only NHL Draft pick in the series.

He was taken in the seventh round by the New York Rangers in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.

Prince George has 12 players committed to NCAA Division I programs, while Victoria has eight.

Spruce Kings forward Ben Brar and Grizzlies forward Ryan Nolan are set to be college teammates next year at Merrimack, while Prince George’s Sean Donaldson and Victoria’s Carter Berger are both committed to Connecticut.

The Spruce Kings have almost forgotten what it is like to lose at home.

They have won their last 13 games at the RMCA (last home loss Dec. 15th).

P.G. is peaking at the right time winning 20 of its last 22 overall games.

The Grizzlies should not be intimidated.

In fact, Victoria won both games in the regular season, 4-3 October 5th in Prince George, and
3-0 January 6th on the Island.

Hockey fans in Prince George have caught Spruce Kings fever.

The team averaged 983 fans during the regular season but that number has increased significantly to 1,454 in five post-season games (1,267, 1,241 and 1,220 in round one and 1,697 and 1,847 in round two).

Tonight there will be a standing-room only crowd (about 2,000).

Both teams are eight wins away from the ultimate goal of a Fred Page Cup title, something the Spruce Kings have never won (although they lost to Wenatchee in five in the finals last season).

The Grizzlies franchise has one previous championship in 2001 when they were known as the Victoria Salsa.

The city of Victoria has also seen one more title when the Victoria Grizzlies took home the trophy in 1969.

The winner plays the Interior champion (either the Vernon Vipers of Wenatchee Wild).

With the scene set, the fun part for the players will begin.

In Junior A hockey, this is March Madness at its finest!

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Spruce Kings-Grizzlies 3rd Round Series: (PG Home Games in Bold)

Game 1 – Friday, March 29th – Victoria @ Prince George – 7 PM
Game 2 – Saturday, March 30th – Victoria @ Prince George – 7 PM

Game 3 – Monday, April 1st – Prince George @ Victoria – 7 PM
Game 4 – Tuesday, April 2nd – Prince George @ Victoria – 7 PM
Game 5 – Thursday, April 4th – Victoria @ Prince George – 7 PM (If Necessary)
Game 6 – Saturday, April 6th – Prince George @ Victoria – 7 PM (If Necessary)
Game 7 – Monday, April 8th – Victoria @ Prince George – 7 PM (If Necessary)

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This is Week 26 of ‘Hartley’s Cat Scan’

The podcast, introduced in September, predominately features the Prince George Cougars.

My guest to conclude season one is Cougars minority owner Dan Hamhuis of Smithers.

Dan discusses a wide range of topics from his WHL playing days to his second stint with the Nashville Predators and everything in between.

He says he never wanted to leave Vancouver (the Canucks) and remains committed long-term term to keep the Cougars in Prince George.

You can also find this podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, and TuneIn.


FROM THE QUOTE RACK:

Americans will wager $8.5 billion on this year’s NCAA basketball tournament, according to a survey released by the American Gaming Association, or to put that in proper perspective, enough money for 17,000 unqualified students to bribe their way into USC.

*Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times http://www.seattletimes.com/author/dwight-perry/

Four tweets from President Trump about Washington Capitals and captain Alex Ovechkin’s Stanley Cup Championship visit to White House. Well to be fair, this is only the second time a team in the Oval Office has been led by a Russian.

*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com

Danica Patrick will join NBC for Indy 500 coverage, or as she remembers it while she was still competing, the Indy 125.

*Comedy writer Jim Barach http://jokesbyjim.blogspot.ca/

New England Patriots Tight End Rob Gronkowski has announced his retirement, which means he’ll be in the Patriots’ starting lineup for the 2020 opener.

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

American figure skater Mariah Bell has been accused of kicking her South Korean rival from behind with her skate and causing a cut to her calf. Wasn’t this was a “Non-Contact” sport before Tonya Harding competed?

*Comedy writer Tony Chong


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

A woman was mauled by a jaguar while taking a selfie in a Phoenix zoo enclosure. Elsewhere, QB Nick Foles got $88 million from Jacksonville — so there the Jaguars got mauled.

*Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com

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Hartley Miller is the sports director and morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT.
He also is the 94.3 radio colour commentator for P.G. Cougars home games.
His column appears Fridays on myprincegeorgenow.com.
Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to hmiller@thegoatrocks.ca.
Follow him on Twitter: @Hartley_Miller
Listen to him on his weekly podcast: Hartley’s Cat Scan.