Prince George Spruce Kings bench boss Alex Evin is cautiously optimistic about this year’s team.
The Spruce Kings are eager to bounce back from a tough 2019-20 campaign where injuries and a lack of goal scoring resulted in an 18-32-3-5 record in the Mainland Division while notching a league-low 150 goals.
Before recent Provincial Health orders put a halt to the exhibition schedule, the Spruce Kings recorded a mark of 4-2-0-1.
Evin believes a more balanced approach throughout the entire lineup could make all the difference.
“I like our team. Obviously, I think we have a lot of potential, it’s still exhibition as some of our younger players are new to the league who are getting their feet under them and we still have some of our older guys trying to be a little more consistent.”
“We have a good chunk of guys that we like from last year who have good character, and our management staff did a really good job acquiring some veteran players that we like. Suddenly we have a strong group of players with our young guys. I like our mix.”
Spruce Kings general manager Mike Hawes did a summer facelift with the roster by bringing in several BCHL veterans including Darwin Lakoduk, Christian Buono, Rowan Miller, Austin Spiradakis, and Tanner Main via the trade route.
However, Main’s first and only season with PG has been derailed following a major knee injury he sustained during a pre-season road trip through the Kootenays.
— Prince George Spruce Kings (@SpruceKings) November 24, 2020
Evin is also impressed with 20-year-old forward Andrew Seaman, who enjoyed a strong pre-season with seven points in as many games.
Evin is noticing another level from the overager after he posted just 16 points in his rookie season.
“For us last year, he was a new player to the league and I think it took him a lot of time – whether it was adjusting to the speed or understanding how to be effective. I think he did a good job of that by the end of the year. He does have an offensive side and it’s nice to see Andrew get off to a good start.”
Who’s Number 1?
Fairlie spent last season with the Cariboo Cougars of the BC U18 AAA League and posted a record of 10-7-1 with a 2.47 goals-against average.
Trotter spent two years with the Shawnigan Lake U18 program in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League and recorded a 2.57 goals-against average to go along with a .905 save percentage.
In either case, Evin isn’t tipping his hand on who is PG’s starting netminder.
“Whichever one can probably emerge as being consistent at the end of the day will probably play. They (Fairlie and Trotter) have been doing a really good job as they don’t have a lot of experience in junior hockey. Their attitudes have been great at the rink and they are learning through their experiences.”
Woodside hasn’t played yet this season due to injury.
Before the stoppage in play, the Spruce Kings continued to tinker with their roster. They picked up Cougars overage defenseman Cole Moberg on loan from the WHL club and dealt for 18-year-old forward Simon Labelle from the Rockland Nationals of the Central Canadian Hockey League.
Labelle finished last season with 24 goals and 51 points in 54 games. He started this season with the New Jersey Junior Titans in the North American Hockey League and had one assist in four games.
A member of the 2019-20 CCHL High School Academic All-Star Team, Labelle also added three assists in one North American Tier III Hockey League game with the New Jersey Titans this season.
The Ottawa product is committed to play NCAA Division I hockey at Colgate University next September.