The Wenatchee Wild’s three game lead over the Prince George Spruce Kings in the Fred Page Cup vanished into thin air faster than The Illusionists on Tuesday.
In a must win Game Four, the Spruce Kings bounced back with authority doubling the Wild 4-2 in front of another standing room only crowd of 2,112 at the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena (RMCA), trimming the best-of-seven series to 3-1.
This comes just 24 hours after Prince George fell 4-3 in double overtime during Game Three against the visitors from Washington State.
“We felt that it’s a bit of revenge, we felt we were good enough to win game three so coming out today we really wanted to play a really good game. We had a couple of lapses there but we had a lot of good shifts and got the dub,” says Ethan de Jong, Spruce Kings Forward.
The 18-year-old from North Vancouver who is also the team’s leading scorer in the playoffs (27 points in 23 games) proved clutch as he lit the lamp in the dying seconds of the middle frame and then sealed the victory with a nice backhand goal past Wild goaltender Austin Park on the power-play late in the third period.
Prince George also got an emotional boost at game-time as second leading regular season scorer Ben Poisson made his 2018 playoff debut after missing the last two months with a separated shoulder and a ruptured spleen.
On his first shift back, Poisson nearly completed a magnificent cross-ice pass but was robbed by the paddle of Park.
“It’s too bad, I really wish it had gone in but the just bounced on me and the goalie made a good save.”
It was quite the ordeal for Poisson who didn’t get medical clearance until late in the afternoon.
“Mags called me and told me to get on the earliest flight you can. I was on at 5:30 and landed at 6:45 and booked it to the rink.”
The Spruce Kings, who are 5-0 when facing elimination, will now head back to Wenatchee for Game Five of the Fred Page Cup Final series and are looking to give the Wild their first home loss of the 2018 playoffs.
“It’s a really difficult rink to win in. I think we learned a lot over the last two games if we make a couple of adjustments, which we did and I think not much will change on their ice even though it is a little bit bigger,” says Kyle Johnson, Spruce Kings Captain.
If necessary, Game Six will be played in Prince George on Saturday at 7PM from the RMCA.
(Files by Brendan Pawliw)