Barry Coulter and Trevor Crawley
The Cranbrook Bucks relocated their firepower Monday back home at Western Financial Place, after dropping the first two games of the BCHL playoffs against the Prince George Spruce Kings. The Herd looks to tie the series up tonight, Tuesday, April 5, in Cranbrook.
The Bucks opened the playoffs with a pair of tough losses to the Spruce Kings over the weekend.Both losses were by a score of 4-1 in favour of Prince George.
But on Monday, the Bucks came out determined to get back in it, and opened the scoring early, not even two minutes in, with a goal by Zeth Kindrachuk, his second of the playoffs.
The Spruce Kings have a lot of speed at their disposal, but the Bucks were hard-working, organized and disciplined on defence in the first period, and after killing off a goal-tender interference penalty early in the first, kept the pressure on. They were rewarded with a power play goal of their own, courtesy AJ Vasko, with assists from Tyson Dyck and Rhys Bentham, in the dying minutes of the first. Two-to-nothing Bucks to end the first.
The Spruce Kings got into a bit of penalty trouble in the second, and Luke Pfoh capitalized on an early power play with his first of the playoffs. Assists to Kellan Hjartason and AJ Vasko (his second point of the night).
That’s where the scoring would cease for the night. Penalties were the theme of the third period, with four called against Prince George and two against the Bucks. But Aaron Trotter was tough in net for Prince George. He faced 43 shots from the Bucks, stopping 40. Nathan Airey got the shutout for Cranbrook, stopping all 27 shots he faced.
Both teams are geared up for Tuesday’s rematch.
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Saturday’s affair in Prince George was tighter than the boxscore indicates.
After a scoreless opening frame, Prince George scored two quick goals on efforts from Kolten Cousins and Nick Rheaume, before Tyson Dyck responded for the Bucks.
Luc Laylin scored the insurance marker midway through the final frame and Cousins added an empty net marker to seal the win.
Bucks netminder turned away 30 shots, while Spruce Kings goaltender Aaron Trotter made 23 saves for the win.
Special teams was quiet from both squads; the Bucks were scoreless on two powerplays, while the Spruce Kings were unsuccessful with three opportunities on the man-advantage.
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On Friday, the Bucks fell by a score of 4-1 to open the BCHL post-season in Prince George.
Simon Labelle and Nick Marciano drew first blood in the opening period, while Ty Gagno added to the scoresheet in the middle frame.
Luc Laylin added the fourth unanswered goal late in the final period, but Zeth Kindrachuk put the Bucks on the board in the final minute of the game.
Airey made 30 saves in goal for Cranbrook, while Trotter stopped 26 shots for Prince George.
The Spruce Kings scored two goals on the powerplay in seven opportunities with the man advantage, while also killing off all four Bucks powerplays.
NOTES: Cranbrook Bucks forward Tyson Dyck was nominated for the BCHL Rookie of the Year award, announced at the end of the regular season. Dyck had a monster year and was far and away the Bucks’ lead scorer, with 34 goals and 41 assists in 54 games this season, an effort that landed him on the NHL Central Scouting rankings. Dyck was nominated alongside Cade Litter with the Wenatchee Wild, and Matthew Wood, with the Victoria Grizzlies.