Kings pull into tie for second Featured

Published on Tuesday, 25 October 2022 07:52

With five wins in their last seven games, the Dauphin Kings are in the middle of the fight for playoff positioning in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s West Division.

The Kings could not build on a 3-0 lead first-period lead on Friday in Virden, falling 6-5 in overtime. It was a different story, Saturday in Dauphin as Marko Belak made his Kings debut a successful one, with 21 saves in a 2-1 victory.

As a result, the two teams are tied for second place with 16 points each and trail the first-place OCN Blizzard by seven, while maintaining a two-point advantage over the Waywayseecappo Wolverines and Swan Valley Stampeders.

Kings head coach and general manager Doug Hedley said the Kings were real good in the first period of Friday’s game.

“We outplayed them. We were the better team and had a 3-0 lead. We were driving the net. Two goals were in the paint, so obviously, we were getting to the net. (In the second), we backed off a little bit,” he said. “Give Virden credit. They came at us hard, had some good opportunities and got some lucky bounces.”

The disappointing part of it, Hedley said, was the Kings getting away from the D-side of battles and being above pucks, but they improved that aspect in Saturday’s victory.

Dauphin native Carter Zalischuk had given the Kings a 5-4 lead with 7:32 remaining, his first career goal in the MJHL.

“It should have been locked. We still played as individuals and not as a team. We were still thinking offence when we didn’t need to,” Hedley said. “At that time of the game, it’s got to be locked up. It’s what you leave rather than what you create and we didn’t need more offence, we just had to shut down like we did tonight.”

Both teams played much better defensively, which each team recording just 22 shots.

Hedley was impressed with Belak’s play in his debut.

“He was solid. He’s a big kid and really moves quick. He made great save on the power play in the first period,” he said.

The Kings will look to close the gap on the Blizzard when the two teams faceoff in OCN, tonight.

“That’s going to be a big match. That’s a good team. They’re in first place for a reason. Doug Johnson has them playing real well,” Hedley said.

The Kings have two games on home ice this weekend, beginning Friday against the Neepawa Titans, followed by the first meeting of the season against the Wolverines. Both games begin at 7:30 p.m.

A few players are battling the injury bug.

Defencemen Thomas Stewart is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury, while forward Garrett Hrechka is out with a shoulder injury and Riley Borody is expected back this week after suffering a fractured rib. Defenceman Marco Bodnarski is out with bursitis in his elbow.

Kings court:

Prior to announcing the full rosters for the upcoming Top Prospects Showcase, Nov. 15 and 16 in Portage, the MJHL announced three players from each team who will play at the event. The three players named from the Kings are defencemen Owen Wareham and Anthony Bax and forward Jayden Harris. The event will feature six teams selected from MJHL rosters (two 18U and four 20U) who are considered top prospects for the NHL, NCAA, major junior and U Sports as selected by MJHL coaches along with input from external scouting networks. Each team will partake in a practice and play two full games during this high-performance event in front of scouts from higher levels expected to be in attendance.

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