Vernon Vipers forwards Connor Marritt (on-ice) and Josh Latta tangle with Prince George Spruce Kings defenceman Nick Bochen during Game 2 action of the B.C. Hockey League’s Fred Page Cup final in Prince George. The Spruce Kings beat the Vipers 4-1 for their 11th straight playoff win and a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven championship. (Lisa Mazurek - Vernon Vipers Photos)

Vernon Vipers forwards Connor Marritt (on-ice) and Josh Latta tangle with Prince George Spruce Kings defenceman Nick Bochen during Game 2 action of the B.C. Hockey League’s Fred Page Cup final in Prince George. The Spruce Kings beat the Vipers 4-1 for their 11th straight playoff win and a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven championship. (Lisa Mazurek - Vernon Vipers Photos)

Vernon Vipers fall to Prince George – again

Spruce Kings win 11th straight BCHL playoff game, 3-1; take 2-0 Fred Page Cup final lead

Right now, there’s no stopping the Prince George Spruce Kings.

The Spruce Kings are two wins away from their first-ever B.C. Hockey League Fred Page Cup championship following a 4-1 win over the Vernon Vipers Saturday in front of a second-straight capacity crowd of 2,112 fans at the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena in B.C.’s Northern capital.

Prince George, winners of 11 straight playoff games, have a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven league final, which shifts to Vernon for Games 3 and 4 Tuesday and Wednesday at Kal Tire Place (7 p.m. starts).

The Vipers, held to just two goals in the first two games, dominated play in the first period Saturday, outshooting the Spruce Kings 14-5, but it was the home team getting the only goal as veteran forward Ben Brar scored a carbon-copy deflection goal, similar to one he scored in Friday’s 3-1 victory, with just under four minutes left in the frame.

READ ALSO: Vipers fall to Prince George in game one

In the second, it was Finlay Williams, eight days shy of his 16th birthday, who knocked home a loose puck in the slot to double the Spruce Kings’ lead.

Jesse Lansdell answered for Vernon midway through the frame with his sixth goal of the playoffs and second in as many games. The 20-year-old BCHL veteran centred a pass after a Jagger Williamson wraparound attempt and the puck bounced off a Prince George defender and slowly slid across the line past a prone Neaton to cut the lead to one.

After the Vipers got in penalty trouble late in the second and went down five-on-three, Nick Bochen one-timed a pass from Dylan Anhorn from the point and blew the puck by a screened Porter to make it 3-1 heading into intermission.

Both goalies shut the door in the third period as Prince George outshot Vernon 13-9 in the final frame and Brar sealed the game with an empty-net goal with 39 seconds to play to make it a 4-1 final.

With his 27-save performance in the crease, Logan Neaton of the Spruce Kings was named the first star of the game for the second night in a row. BCHL player of the week Aidan Porter made 23 saves for the Vipers, who have lost six straight post- and regular-season games to the Spruce Kings dating back to 2018.

Tickets for Games 3 and 4 in Vernon go on sale at 10 a.m. Sunday at Kal Tire Place.

The winner of this series meets the Alberta Junior League champion in the best-of-seven Doyle Cup final. The Brooks Bandits lead the AJHL final 2-0 over the Spruce Grove Saints following a pair of 3-2 home-ice wins on the weekend.

Brooks is hosting the National Junior A Hockey Championship (formerly RBC Cup) May 11-19 so if they win the Alberta series, the BCHL champ gets an automatic berth into the Canadian finals.



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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