It has been a near-perfect playoff run to date for the Prince George Spruce Kings.

The way they are going, a BCHL championship may seem like small potatoes, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

The Spruce Kings are playing as well or better than any Jr. A team in the country, but it’s still a tad early to book tickets to Brooks, Alberta, site of the Royal Bank Cup May 11-19.

They need four more wins for their first Fred Page Cup title and should be clear favourites in the next round against either the Vernon Vipers or the defending champion Wenatchee Wild.

Teams strive to peak at playoff time and that is exactly what the Spruce Kings are doing.

The numbers are indisputable!

Here’s a closer look.

They won have nine straight, including sweeps of the Chilliwack Chiefs in the Mainland Division final and the Victoria Grizzlies in the Coastal Conference championship series.

P.G. is 12-1 in the playoffs, outscoring the opponent by a whopping 51-21 margin.

Against Chilliwack, they never trailed, and against Victoria, they did not allow one third period goal in the four games.

I’m not sure it gets more impressive than that.

Dating back to including games from the regular season, the Spruce Kings have won 24 of their last 26 games.

In addition, they are riding a 15-game home win streak (P.G. has not lost at the RMCA in 2019).

While Logan Neaton has been superb in net with a league-leading 1.47 GAA plus an eyebrow-raising .936 save percentage, the team in front of him has been at least as good.

Throughout the playoffs, the Spruce Kings have locked it down at the key moments, allowing very few quality scoring chances.

In other words, they have learned how to win, much of which came from last season’s experience, when P.G. won its first Mainland and Coastal Conference titles.

On good teams, third line players step up their game and excel.

Corey Cunningham, the only Prince George product on the team, is a prime example.

The 17-year-old Cunningham was a healthy scratch or saw limited ice time in much of his rookie 2017-18 season.

To his credit, he did not let that disappointment deter him in securing a much more prominent role on the team this season.

This playoff run has propelled Cunningham to new heights.

He was named the BCHL Player of the Week for his total of three goals and one assist in back-to-back 4-2 home wins over Victoria in the first two games of the series (third star in the opener and first star in game two).

Cunningham finished with five points in four games against the Grizzlies and now has nine points (4 goals) in 13 post-season games, compared to no points in 10 playoff games last year.

His offence has been put into another gear after notching 14 points (8 goals) in 47 regular season games in 2018-19.

Cunningham was overlooked by many scouts, despite putting up massive offensive numbers in bantam hockey and 28 points in 30 games with the Delta Hockey Academy Elite 15’s in the 2016/17.

Now, with continued progression, he could easily join a long list of Spruce Kings that secured an NCAA Scholarship.

Cunningham’s linemate, Nolan Welsh, has also upped his level of play.

The former member of the Victoria Grizzlies, scored twice, including the winner shorthanded, and added an assist in a 4-2 triumph in game three.

The 19-year-old Welsh has 12 points (3 goals) in 13 post-season games after putting up just 20 points in all 58 regular season contests.

The Spruce Kings are in the midst of their second consecutive 10-day break between rounds.

It is vital the players not let current success go to their heads.

Despite a dozen impressive dozen wins, the goal is not complete.

About the only downside is the financial implications of only playing just 7 home games (one over the minimum) through three rounds, compared to 11 at this same point last year.

That is one sacrifice the team is more than willing to live with.

FROM THE QUOTE RACK:

If you receive an email with the subject line ‘Two free LA Lakers tickets,’ do not open it. It contains two free LA Lakers tickets.

*Comedy writer Argus Hamilton

The NBA Washington Wizards fired team president Ernie Grunfeld. So it IS possible to fire a President in Washington.

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

Bryce Harper was named by players as the most overrated in baseball by a 62% vote. Although he just has to wait until the NY Mets move Tim Tebow up to the Majors.

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

Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper was booed by the Philadelphia fans on Opening Day. He joins elite company in being booed in the first appearance on behalf of the home team there—–that would be Santa Claus.

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

In their first season, the Alliance of American Football has shut down. They’re not allowed to tackle, throw or catch. It’s like being a member of the Oakland Raiders.

*Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg

President Trump paid a recent visit to America’s last tank factory.  Apparently, it was his first New York Knicks game in years.

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


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

The NY Times reports scientists want more study into a rare genetic mutation that keeps Jo Cameron, 71, from feeling any pain or anxiety. Her next big test — Knicks season tickets.

*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.