Grizzlies top Kings, will meet Spruce Kings in third round

By Jesse McGowan
March 26, 2019 - 1:41pm Updated: March 26, 2019 - 7:46pm

It's been a full week since the Spruce Kings finished their second-round sweep of the League Champion Chilliwack Chiefs. Last Tuesday, the team won 4-2 on home ice to secure the four-game sweep and extend their home winning streak to 13 games.

Now, a full week later, they can start preparing for their opponents, the Victoria Grizzlies. The top-seeded island team knocked out the Powell River Kings Monday night, 6-1, in a deciding game seven.

The Grizzlies are the second highest ranked team left in the playoffs after finishing fifth in the overall league standings, trailing eight points behind the Spruce Kings, who finished in second.

The two Coastal Conference powerhouses will start the championship series on Friday in Prince George. This season, the Grizzlies won both meetings against the Kings. In October, they beat them in Prince George, 4-3. Next, in January, the Grizzlies would win 3-0 at home at the end of a three-game weekend road trip for the Spruce Kings.

The matchup pits the top defensive team in the league against the top offensive one. The Spruce Kings allowed a league-best 120 goals through 58 games this year (2.07 goals per game), while Victoria led the league in offensive production with 231 goals in the same 58 games (3.98 goals per game). To contrast those numbers, Victoria allowed 188 goals, while Prince George scored 181.

The production from the Grizzlies comes courtesy of their one-two punch in Alex Newhook and Alexander Campbell. Newhook is expected to go very high in this year's NHL Entry Draft as he's currently ranked sixteenth among North American skaters on NHL Central Scouting's Midseason Rankings. Newhook led the BCHL in points this season with 102. His 64 assists led the league, while his 38 assists put him at third.

The team's rookie forward Alexander Campbell has been stockpiling points this season as well. In his first year in the BCHL, Campbell finished seventh in points with 67, but in assists only trailed Newhook, finishing with 46.

Campbell's older brother Charlie also plays for the Grizzlies. The Quebec-born brothers are just 15 months apart and both played at Stanstead College in Quebec last year, before making the move to Victoria.

In order for the Spruce Kings to advance, their experienced defensive unit will need to support goaltender Logan Neaton in stopping the Alex's (Newhook & Campbell). They've succeeded on the defensive end so far in the playoffs, with Neaton posting an 8-1 record with two shutouts, while also leading the remaining goalies in save percentage and goals against average.

Game one will be played Friday at 7 pm from the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena. Game two will go Saturday at 7 from Prince George, before both teams travel to Victoria for games three and four early next week.

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