It took 55 minutes and 31 seconds for the Smoke Eaters to get on the board, but when they did they got two quick goals to win Game 1 of this series against Prince George.
The Smoke Eaters started as expected. With speed and scoring opportunities a plenty. But Spruce Kings goaltender Jett Alexander brought his ‘A’ game on Friday night. After struggling in the previous meetings against the Smoke Eaters there was definitely a question mark in goal for the Spruce Kings, Alexander put those to rest with his performance tonight. While none of his saves were show stoppers by any means, Alexander was steady and in the right spot at the right time to stump the Smokies for 90% of this game. The Spruce Kings opened the scoring on a 5-on-3 power play goal from Nick Bochen. The Smoke Eaters found themselves down two players in quick succession as the Spruce Kings had 1:51 of a two-man advantage to work with. It took most of it but Bochen took the shot from the left circle of the Smoke Eaters zone, got the shot through the traffic and past Logan Terness to open his playoff account, and open the scoring in this series. The Smoke Eaters pushed back and almost had another late goal but Alexander closed the door.
In the second the Smoke Eaters showed signs of frustration but stuck with the game plan and continued to push. With the Smoke Eaters unable to solve Alexender for another twenty minutes gave the Spruce Kings more and more confidence to try and extend their lead as the period went on. Terness was on his game stopping 25 of 26 on the night and all 11 he faced in the middle frame.
Jumping ahead to the third the Smoke Eaters always looked like the side to go on and win the game, they just made it a dramatic finish. With tempers rising and gatherings on almost ever whistle the Smoke Eaters still trailed going into the closing minutes. with 4:29 to go it was Matt Osadick who finally broke Alexander as his wrist shot from the left circle went glove side to tie the game at 1.
Moments later it was Philippe Lapointe, who’s popped up for a few crucial goals over the last few weeks to score the game winner. As Owen Ozar passed out front for Kent Johnson, who took the back hand shot, had it deflect to Lapointe for the 2-1 lead with 3:04 to go.
The Smoke Eaters would hold on after a late push from the Spruce Kings to take game one of this series. Osadick earned the Fortis Energy Player of the Game while Alexander was deservedly given the 3rd star. Terness was given the 2nd star and captain Lapointe was the first star. An honourable mention has to be given to Powell Connor as well who rushed the puck a few times up the ice and created multiple opportunities.
Game two goes Saturday night as the Smoke Eaters will try and take a 2-0 series lead to Prince George for game three on Monday night.