The Cranbrook Bucks are back to their winning ways, riding a three-game streak following a two-game sweep of Prince George. The weekend victories also saw them take a prodigious leap in the BCHL standings.
The Herd was in PG Friday and Saturday to face the Spruce Kings, and started things off right with a 3-2 victory over the home team.
The first period of Friday’s game proved to be a goaltenders’ duel, with Nathan Airey of the Bucks (in his 70th BCHL game) and PG’s Jordan Fairlie stopping 11 and 10 shots respectively, including on a power play for each team.
Blake Cotton opened scoring in the second, getting his first goal with his first game for the Bucks, but Jack Stockfish tied up matters four minutes later. The Bucks were able to survive a couple of penalty kills in the period.
In the third period, Jack Silich got his 15th of the season only a minute and a half in. John Herrington’s power play goal tied it up again, but Jarrod Smith regained the lead for Cranbrook at the 16 minute mark. The Bucks were able to withstand the Spruce Kings’ extra man attack with their goalie pulled, to claim victory.
The Bucks were outshot — a rarity for them — 35 to 23, but Airey stopped enough to make the difference.
It took Cranbrook a while to find their firepower on Saturday, but find it they did, en route to a 4-1 victory.
Jack Silich continued with his hot hand, scoring his 16th to open scoring after a 15 minutes of tight-checking by both teams.
Jack Stockfish tied things up in the second, but from then on the Bucks had the upper hand, thanks to a couple of power play goals from Jarrod Smith and Cameron Kungle.
Once again, the Spruce Kings pulled the goalie, but Donovan Frias sealed the deal for Cranbrook with a goal into the empty net.
Nathan Airey was stellar in net for Cranbrook, stopping 31 of 32 shots. Aidan Feddema stopped 32 of 35 for the Spruce Kings.
Cranbrook, at 15-8-1, is now in third place in the Interior Conference of the BCHL, but tied in points (31) with the second place West Kelowna Warriors. The Salmon Arm Silverbacks are in close behind fourth place, with 30 points. The powerful Penticton Vees have a solid hold on first, with 48 points.
The Bucks have a chance to sort things out with the Warriors — a four game home stand starts Friday against West Kelowna at Western Financial Place in Cranbrook.