On the strength of three third-period goals, the Prince George Spruce Kings came from behind to beat the Alberta Junior Hockey League champion Brooks Bandits 4-2 in Game 6 Saturday to win the franchise’s first-ever Doyle Cup.
Trailing 2-1, Prince George broke out in the third, carrying the play and outshooting their opponents 11-4. Ben Brar tied things up after a beautiful passing play between himself, Dustin Manz and Patrick Cozzi left him with a wide-open net and he made no mistake. Later in the frame, it was Chong Min Lee who took a cross-ice pass from Ben Poisson on a 2-on-1 and deposited the puck into the right side of the net past a sprawling Pierce Charleson in the Brooks crease to give PG the lead with under five minutes to play.
Patrick Cozzi continued his hot play of late by hitting the empty net from inside his own blueline and the celebration was on. As the clock hit zero, the Spruce Kings piled off the bench and mobbed their goaltender Logan Neaton who made 23 saves in the win.
Since the series returned to Prince George for Game 4, Cozzi scored four goals and added one assist in those three games, all Spruce Kings wins. His two-point effort tonight gives him six points in the series to lead the Doyle Cup.
The Spruce Kings are 20-3 in the post-season, and did not lose a game on home ice.
With Brooks hosting the National Junior A Championship, the Bandits get a berth in the tournament despite the loss. The Spruce Kings will be the Pacific Region representatives in the five-team event.
Both teams will have a week off before the tournament starts next Saturday, May 11, in Brooks.
* The Merritt Centennials have hired Barry Wolff as their new head coach and general manager.
Wolff most recently coached the Swan Valley Stampeders of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL), taking over midseason last year and leading them to Game 7 of the league finals this season, where they eventually lost in overtime to the Portage Terriers.
Wolff guided the Coquitlam Express to the BCHL’s Fred Page Cup title in 2014, sweeping the Vernon Vipers in the final. He coached Coquitlam from 2013-17, and was also a bench boss in the league with the now-defunct Quesnel Millionaires.
Originally from Kelowna, Wolff brings 24 years of junior hockey coaching experience to the team. He also won a gold medal as an assistant coach for Team Canada West at the 2015 World Junior A Challenge.
He will replace former Centennials coach and reining BCHL Coach of the Year Joe Martin who departed for the Alberni Valley Bulldogs after the season.
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