The Cranbrook Bucks pushed their point streak to seven games by taking a 1-0 overtime thriller from the Prince George Spruce Kings on Friday night.
It was the fourth meeting of the season between the two Interior Conference combatants, and the first in Cranbrook.
In fact, it was the Spruce Kings first-ever regular season visit to Western Financial Place, in the southeastern corner of the province.
After a couple good shifts by the host Bucks in the opening minutes of the game, the visitors from Prince George found some jump and grabbed the momentum.
Cranbrook goaltender Nathan Airey was forced to make a flurry of saves in the middle part of the first period, as the Spruce Kings surged once they found their legs.
A Prince George penalty just past the halfway point of the period slowed the pace down and allowed the Bucks to take back some momentum, but they failed to find the game’s first goal.
A seesaw opening stanza ended scoreless, with the shots also even at nine apiece.
It was much of the same in the second period, as the teams continued to go back-and-forth.
Cranbrook was awarded the second powerplay of the game — this time a four minute double-minor for kneeing — but again failed to score.
The powerplay did give the Bucks some momentum and a bit of an edge in play, although they could not find the game’s first goal through the opening 40 minutes.
The contest was still scoreless into the second intermission, and Cranbrook outshot Prince George 12-5 in the middle frame for a 21-14 advantage through two periods.
The third period was once again an even, seesaw battle that saw both teams get chances to open the scoring.
Either goaltender was tested but remained perfect as the two squads looked for a go-ahead goal in the final frame.
The Bucks were assessed a pair of penalties in the third period, including one in the dying minutes, but were able to kill them both off.
As the period went on, both teams seemed to play defensive, conservative hockey, yet there were scoring chances opening up for both sides.
Still, nothing got by the masked men between the pipes, and we went to overtime in what was still a scoreless game.
As 3-on-3 overtime got underway, the teams continued to trade chances, this time with a lot more open ice to work with.
The Spruce Kings got a nice rush up the ice from defenseman Colton Cameron who tested Airey before the Bucks gained possession.
Cranbrook defenseman Bauer Morrissey then took the game over and settled it down for a few seconds before sending a cross-ice pass over to Noah Quinn — who did the rest on his own.
Quinn’s solo effort was the first and only goal of the night, finally solving Spruce Kings goalie Jordan Fairlie, who was terrific for over 61 minutes.
Obviously, the 1-0 overtime game could have gone either way, with just one shot being the difference.
The Bucks probably got the result they deserved however, as they got better as the game went on and ultimately outshot Prince George 31-24 in the overtime thriller.
The Cranbrook win evens the season series at two wins apiece, although both of the Bucks victories against the Spruce Kings have come of the overtime variety.
Here are the game highlights, courtesy of Prince George’s YouTube channel.
The Bucks post-game recap can be found here, and the BCHL boxscore can be viewed here.
These same two teams will do it all over again on Saturday to determine the season series victor.