Kings move back into playoff position

Published on Tuesday, 07 March 2023 07:46

The Dauphin Kings moved back into a playoff position following a split of a home-and-home with the first-year Niverville Nighthawks.

Niverville scored a controversial 3-2 shootout win, Friday in Dauphin.

In the five-minute overtime, the Kings thought they had scored the winning goal, but the referee had blown the play dead before the puck crossed the line.

In the shootout, Josh Paulhus, Niverville’s second shooter, skated in and made a shooting motion, missing the puck. He made another shooting motion and scored on the second try, which the on-ice officials counted, giving the Nighthawks the victory.

According to Kings head coach and general manager Doug Hedley, the referees stated Paulhus faked a shot, before he scored.

“He shot twice. There’s no doubt about it,” he said. “We asked if we could appeal a shootout decision, but we can’t. The league has no process in line to appeal a referee’s decision on a shootout goal. There’s nothing else, it’s just a judgement call.”

Dauphin got a measure of revenge two days later with a 7-4 win in Niverville.

“I’ve been really proud of the guys and the way they’ve been playing, because since we beat Steinbach on the Friday at home, we’ve had that urgency, that compete level. Sure we’ve gotten some tough breaks, but we played well enough,” he said. “We stuck to the process in Niverville and we bent a little bit, but found a way to get it done. So that’s the biggest thing, is finding that resolve, that rebound ability and that push back that makes a team tough to beat in playoffs.”

Sunday’s win was the 349th of Doug Hedley career as Kings head coach, moving him one ahead of his former assistant, Marlin Murray.

For Hedley, it is just a number. What is more important to him is the people and players he has worked with over the years.

“Obviously, it’s been an honour and priviledge to coach them. But it’s just a number to me. What it does make you do, is reflect on the players and coaches I’ve worked with in Dauphin,” he said. “It’s more about who I’ve worked with and what they’ve gone on to do later.”

One of the things Hedley has focused on over the years is developing players to get to the next level.

“Hockey is such a great sport. There’s so many life skills to learn in a team sport like hockey, whether it’s being a teammate, whether it’s getting a long with guys, whether it’s learning how to commit to getting better every day,” he said. “All those things are life lessons and a lot of players that I coached have gone on to have successful careers. That means the most to me.”

While he is grateful for the opportunities to coach the Kings on three different occasions, winning, Hedley said, is about more than the success of players and coaches on the ice, noting the board of directors and scouts put in a lot of work, as well, making it a true team effort in building a winning culture.

With three points over the weekend, the Kings improved to 28-21-2-2 for 60 points, moving into the fourth and final playoff spot, one point ahead of the Waywayseecappo Wolverines.

The Kings can widen the spread from the Wolverines tonight when the two teams meet in Waywayseecappo at 7:30 p.m.

On the weekend, Dauphin faces the Centennial Cup host Portage Terriers, Friday in Portage and Saturday in Dauphin. Both games begin at 7:30 p.m.

Hedley feels the younger players will benefit from playing such tightly contested games this late in the season, adding the Kings have beaten Portage in both games they’ve played this season.

“They’re rolling right now, so it’s going to be a great test for us, a good challenge. That’s the kind of team you want to be playing down the stretch because you don’t want to be taking anything for granted,” he said.

Kings court:

Defenceman Aidan Brook was a finalist for the Brian Kozak Memorial Award as Top Defenceman, which went to Winkler’s Trent Sambrook.

Selkirk’s Lucas Brennan won the Steve “Boomer” Hawrysh Memorial Award as Most Valuable Player.

The Ed Belfour Top Goaltender Award went to Swan Valley’s Kobe Grant, while Carter Cormier of Selkirk won the Kim Davis Rookie of the Year Award.

Ryan Botterill of Portage won the Frank McKinnon Award for hockey ability and sportsmanship and Virden’s Tyson Ramsey won the Muzz McPherson Memorial Award as Coach of the Year.

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