The BCHL-champion Prince George Spruce Kings face off against the AJHL-champion Brooks Bandits in the Doyle Cup.

Is this series really needed since both teams have already earned a berth in the Canadian Junior A Championship tournament (formerly known as the RBC Cup)?

The Spruce Kings and Bandits have a guaranteed spot since Brooks is hosting nationals this year (May 11-19).

Winning a Pacific Region title is a bonus but would not carry the same weight as a provincial or national title, especially this year.

However, Spruce Kings general manager Mike Hawes is pleased the series will be in Prince George for the first time.

“Teams in both the BCHL and AJHL strive to get to the Doyle Cup every season. Some teams don’t ever get the opportunity to play in it and it certainly took us (Spruce Kings) a lot of years of trying before we were successful in getting to it,” said Hawes in an interview with MyPGnow.

“We are going to embrace it and play as hard as we always do in an attempt to win it. The last thing our organization wants is to watch another team hoist the Doyle Cup in our building. For the integrity of the game and the playoff process, the Doyle Cup is necessary despite the unique situation this year where both teams are already in the National Junior A Championship.”

The Spruce Kings and Bandits have a decision to make.

Go all out in an attempt to win the series or try to win the series while resting some of their top players for part of the action?

“Our group only knows how to play one way. We have a tremendous group of young men who are competitors. We are approaching the Doyle Cup exactly the same way we have approached every playoff series to this point. We will be playing the best lineup that we can,” said Hawes.

Is winning the Doyle Cup more important than preserving health?

“Both of these things are always a goal in every series we play in. To have playoff success you need to be good, lucky and healthy,” added Hawes.

It is safe to assume the Spruce Kings will be facing their toughest test to date.

Prince George went 39-13-1-5 in the regular season and a BCHL record 16-1 in the playoffs.

The Spruce Kings enter the series on a 13-game win streak and a 17-game home win streak.

Brooks dominated the AJHL, finishing with a record of 57-3-0 and 114 points, 24 more than their closest competition.

After getting a first-round bye, the Bandits went 12-3 in the playoffs, capped off with a four-game sweep over Spruce Grove in the league finals.

The Spruce Kings won 13 playoff games in 2018 and have exceeded that this year with their first Fred Page Cup title.

What makes them better this year than last?

“I think the experience that our guys gained from last season’s playoffs has played a huge factor in our success this playoff season. I also feel that this years team is a slightly tighter group which is an integral part of any successful playoff team at any level of the sport. I also think that the extra depth that we have through the lineup this season has played a major factor. We have four lines and six defencemen that can play in all situations,” stated Hawes.

The Spruce Kings will have anywhere from two to five home games in this series.

Their fans, in a sold-out building, will be able to give them a proper send-off before heading to Nationals.

DOYLE CUP SCHEDULE – AJHL PORTION

DOYLE CUP SCHEDULE – BCHL PORTION

NOTABLES:

  • The Spruce Kings have 12 players committed to NCAA Division I programs, while the Bandits have an AJHL-high 17.
  • Spruce Kings defenceman Dylan Anhorn is a Calgary native and played as an affiliate with the AJHL Olds Grizzlies in 2015-16 and 2016-17.
  • Bandits forward Taylor Makar is the younger brother of Colorado Avalanche defenceman Cale Makar.
  • Spruce Kings defenceman Layton Ahac is the highest-rated player from the latest NHL Central Scouting list in the Doyle Cup, having been slated No. 62 among North American skaters in the April 15 list.

FROM THE QUOTE RACK:

Former Major Leaguer Eric Byrnes set a 24-hour golf speed record of playing 420 holes. Which is amazing considering the PGA Tour speed record is completing 18 holes in just 5 ½ hours.

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

The New York Jets unveiled their new uniforms and they are not getting good reviews. The worst part? They still say New York Jets on them.”

*Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg

Tight end Benjamin Watson, who said he would retire after 2018 with Saints, now is considering returning to NFL for his 16th season. “The first time is the hardest,” said Brett Favre.

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

The piano that John Lennon used in the making of ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ has been bought by Indianapolis Colts owner Robert Irsay. Baltimore fans who remember the middle of the night exit that the team made from their city over 30 years ago immediately recognized his new instrument on the album’s ‘She’s Leaving Home.’

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

Some well-meaning baseball parents trying to dry off the infield for their sons’ high-school game in Ridgefield, Conn., poured 25 gallons of gasoline onto it, lit it — and got only 15-foot flames and a $50,000 tab to remove contaminated soil for their efforts. In other words, third base wasn’t the only hot corner at Governors Field.

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

The Trivago Guy was arrested for DUI in Houston. From now on, he will be known as The Trivagotojail Guy.

*Comedy writer Tony Chong

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

How about Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale? He is 0-4 with an ERA of 7.43. The only pitcher looking worse lately is the Trivago guy.

*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 podcast: Hartley’s Cat Scan.