Prince George Spruce Kings
It’s no secret that hockey is a big part of Canada’s culture. From the National Hockey League (NHL) to minor hockey leagues, the sport of hockey is deeply ingrained in the fabric of Canadian society. And when it comes to minor hockey, one team that has a rich history and a loyal following is the Prince George Spruce Kings.
Based in Prince George, British Columbia, the Spruce Kings are a junior A ice hockey team that currently play in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL). They have been a dominant force in the league since their inception in 1972, and over the years, they have developed many rivalries with other teams in the league. In this article, we will take a trip down memory lane and revisit some of the Spruce Kings’ most important matchups, digging into the history and the significance of these rivalries.
The Rivalry with the Vernon Vipers
Shortened to VX in the BCHL, the rivalry between the Spruce Kings and the Vernon Vipers dates back to the early days of the league. The two teams have faced each other in the playoff finals six times, making it one of the most intense and longstanding rivalries in the history of the BCHL. Both teams have won three championships each when facing each other in the finals, further adding fuel to the fire.
The rivalry got more intense in the 2006-2007 season when the Spruce Kings defeated the Vipers in the finals in five games, earning them their first ever BCHL championship. This win was considered a major upset, as the Vipers were the defending champions and had won three championships in a row. But with a young core and an outstanding performance by goaltender Jon Bruni, the Spruce Kings were able to defy the odds and secure the championship.
The Rivalry with the Penticton Vees
Another long-standing rivalry in the BCHL is between the Spruce Kings and the Penticton Vees. These two teams have been facing each other for over four decades, with a total of 101 games played between them. The rivalry between the two teams is fueled by their close proximity, as both teams are located in the interior of British Columbia.
But it’s not just the geographical proximity that makes this rivalry so intense. The Penticton Vees have been one of the most dominant teams in the BCHL, winning 13 BCHL championships and four national championships. On the other hand, the Spruce Kings have only won one BCHL championship and have never won a national championship. This makes every game between these two teams a battle for supremacy, with both teams fighting for bragging rights over the other.
The Rivalry with the Langley Rivermen
The rivalry between the Spruce Kings and the Langley Rivermen, also known as the Battle of the North, is relatively new compared to the other rivalries in the BCHL. However, it has quickly become one of the most intense rivalries in the league. This rivalry is also fueled by the geographical proximity of the two teams, as they are both located in the northern part of British Columbia.
The rivalry between the two teams reached its peak in the 2016-2017 season when they faced each other in the Fred Page Cup finals. In a thrilling seven-game series, the Spruce Kings emerged victorious, clinching their second BCHL championship. The series was marked by physical play and intense battles on the ice, further adding to the intensity of this rivalry.
The Rivalry with the Chilliwack Chiefs
Although not as intense as the rivalries mentioned above, the Spruce Kings have also developed a rivalry with the Chilliwack Chiefs. This rivalry began in the early 2000s when the Chiefs joined the BCHL and became a dominant force in the league. The Spruce Kings and the Chiefs have faced each other in the finals twice, with the Chiefs winning both times.
But the rivalry between these two teams goes deeper than just on-ice matchups. Both teams have also been involved in several disputes over player recruitment and transfer, further adding to the tension between them. This rivalry may not have the long history of the other rivalries, but it has definitely caused some memorable moments in the BCHL.
The Prince George Spruce Kings have had many intense rivalries in their nearly 50-year history, and they continue to develop new ones with each passing season. These rivalries bring out the best in both teams, making for thrilling and intense games that are a delight to watch for any hockey fan. As the Spruce Kings continue to assert their dominance in the BCHL, one can only imagine what other rivalries will be added to their rich history in the years to come.