Vernon Vipers forward Josh Latta (19) reaches for a loose puck in front of Prince George Spruce Kings goalie Logan Neaton during Game 3 of the B.C. Hockey League’s Fred Page Cup championship Tuesday at Kal Tire Place. (Roger Knox - Black Press)

Prince George on verge of first BC Hockey League title

Spruce Kings defeat Vernon Vipers 4-3 n OT; lead Fred Page Cup championship 3-0

Vancouver’s Poisson brothers reeled in a win for the Prince George Spruce Kings Tuesday.

Older brother Ben banged in a rebound from younger brother Nicholas past Vernon goalie Aidan Porter at 12:07 of sudden death overtime to give the Spruce Kings a 4-3 win over the Vipers in Game 3 of the B.C. Hockey League’s Fred Page Cup championship Tuesday at Kal Tire Place in Vernon.

Prince George now leads the best-of-seven final three games to none.

Game 4 is Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Kal Tire Place. A Prince George win would clinch their first-ever BCHL championship. A Vernon win would send the series back to Prince George for Game 5 Friday.

Prince George is 3-0 in overtime games, Vernon drops to 4-2. The Spruce Kings have won 12 straight playoff games, are 15-1 in the post-season and a remarkable 24-2 since Feb. 1.

It’s only the second time in the 2019 playoffs that the Spruce Kings have given up more than two goals in a game (lost 3-0 with empty-net goal to Coquitlam in Game 4 of opening round, their only post-season defeat).

Four times the Spruce Kings took the lead in Game 3. You have to go back to Game 4 of the BCHL semifinal between Prince George and the Victoria Grizzlies to find the last time the Spruce Kings trailed in a game. A goal by Alex Newhook at 18:29 of the second period gave the Grizzlies a 2-1 lead. Prince George tied the game at 9:40 of the third and won it in overtime.

Nicholas Poisson, with his fourth of the playoffs, set up by brother Ben, snapped a 2-2 tie at 2:47 of the third period, and the Spruce Kings looked poised to win in regulation until Vernon forward Lane Zablocki scored his second of the night with a laser of a shot past Prince George goalie Logan Neaton at 17:40 to force overtime.

READ ALSO: Vernon Vipers fall to Prince George – again

Prince George opened the scoring Tuesday at 15:32 of the first period when Corey Cunningham scored his fifth of the playoffs past Porter.

The Vipers equalized 1:42 into the middle frame when Teddy Wooding knocked in a loose puck in front of Neaton for his fifth of the post-season.

Max Coyle restored the Prince George lead at 14:46 on a powerplay, his third of the playoffs, but the lead would last only three-and-a-half minutes as Zablocki ripped a shot off the post and in behind Neaton for his second of the playoffs at 18:27.

Porter finished with 21 saves while Neaton – who allowed more than two goals in a game for the first time this post-season – made 37 stops.

READ ALSO: Vipers fall to Prince George in game one

The BCHL champion will get an automatic berth to the National Junior A Hockey Championship (formerly RBC Cup) tournament in Brooks, Alta. May 11-19.

The host Brooks Bandits won the Alberta Junior Hockey League championship Tuesday, beating Spruce Grove 2-0 to sweep the Saints in the best-of-seven series.

Brooks’ win means the BCHL winner will get a spot in the national championship. The two teams will play the best-of-seven Doyle Cup as a tune-up for the Canadian finals starting April 26 in Brooks.



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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