Comeback nets Kings a split, move into third place

Published on Tuesday, 10 January 2023 07:52

Alex Senf’s goal 2:29 into overtime lifted the Dauphin Kings to a come-from-behind 6-5 win over the Winnipeg Blues, Saturday, salvaging a split for the local junior A hockey club.

The Blues had scored a 6-4 victory, Friday in Winnipeg, spurred by a three-goal outburst in a span of 3:05, early in the second period.

Kings head coach and general manager Doug Hedley said the Kings were a better team on Saturday.

“They got a point out of it, but I don’t think they deserved it. I thought we had so many chances in the second period,” he said.

Three power-play goals kept the Blues in the game and allowed them to take a 5-3 lead early in the third period. Both goals came on a five-on-three advantage.

“The fact that we got down 5-3 in the third period and found a way to come back and get two points out of it is huge for the guys’ confidence. I really think we have a good group in there,” Hedley said. “We’ve got size, we’ve got speed, we’ve got talent, we’ve got skill. We’ve just got to learn how to work and work smart.”

The Kings enter the week in third place with 41 points, two back of the Waywayseecappo Wolverines and one behind the OCN Blizzard. Dauphin is also one point ahead of the Swan Valley Stampeders.

Virden swept OCN in a pair of games over the weekend and sit in last place, but only 10 points behind the Wolverines.

Having the division so close will make for an exciting stretch drive.

“Especially right now. We’ve got some big games. We’ve got Swan. We’ve got OCN. We’ve got Wayway. So it’s all in our division now. It’s going to be playoff hockey from here on in,” Hedley said.

Teams will be looking to solidify their rosters with the Jan. 10 trading deadline.

Hedley said it would be great to find a top six forward to help the team offensively.

“Having said that, I really liked (Carter) Zalischuk tonight. He was outstanding. You know that kid is always going to give you hard work,” he said, adding the trio of Rylan Gibbs, Logan Walker and Ethan Williment was the best line on Friday. “They practiced all week that way,” Hedley said. “We’re starting to finally get those three guys that can come out there and get a big goal at the right time.”

Hedley tinkered with the power play, using defenceman Aidan Brook as a forward to plant himself in front of the net.

Most of the Kings moves, Hedley said, were made at the Dec. 1 deadline.

“But a puck moving right handed D-man would be great. A top three forward, left handed shot would be ideal,” he added.

Given how tight things are in the West Division, Hedley doesn’t see much movement from among the six teams.

The break allowed the Kings to bring back a healthy lineup, but goaltender Cole Sheffield left Saturday’s game after he was hit in the head in a collision at the side of the net. Hedley said he will be day-to-day.

Hedley planned to talk to Sheffield and fellow tender Marko Belak about the team carrying three goaltenders with the addition of Dmytro Kubritskyi.

The 20-year-old has been playing with the Ukraine national team against Canadian university squads in a series of exhibition contests and has shone in his outings.

Hedley said Kubritskyi has the capability to provide the kind of goaltending Carson Cherepak gave the Kings last season.

“We’re hoping Dmytro can come in here and really solidify (the goaltending),” he said, adding Sheffield and Belak’s numbers are almost identical. “We’ll see what happens,” Hedley said.

The Kings have just one game this week, traveling to Swan Valley on Wednesday to face the Stampeders.

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