After a five-game losing streak put their playoff hopes in jeopardy, a five-game winning streak has turned the tide for the Dauphin Kings.
After a 7-4 victory in Niverville, Mar. 5, the Kings skated into Waywayseecappo, Mar. 7, with a one-point lead over the Wolverines. A 4-0 victory extended that lead to three points and that is where they sit entering the week after both teams won two games over the weekend.
While the Wolverines swept a two-game set with the Winnipeg Blues, the Kings were completing a season series sweep over the Portage Terriers, scoring a 7-5 win, Friday in Portage, followed by a 4-3 shootout victory, Saturday in Dauphin. Then on Monday Dauphin took down the Freeze in Winnipeg 6-2.
Kings head coach and general manager Doug Hedley said the biggest difference between the losing streak and winning streak is the players buying in and believing in each other.
“I think the trust in their teammates is a long time over due. And the work ethic and just little things that wins hockey games that we weren’t doing before,” he said. “We were playing hope hockey in that stretch. We were on the wrong side of pucks, the wrong side of battles, thinking offence instead of thinking creating offence from the back end. Our defence has been so solid and Sheffield got hot. The guys realize now we have a special group here.”
The Kings were missing six players from the lineup on Saturday, including defenceman Anthony Bax who was handed a three-game suspension for a cross checking major on Friday.
The other five players are all out with injuries.
“We’re a MASH unit. We need Radar, Hawkeye and BJ down here,” Hedley said.
Blake Boudreau is out with a shoulder injury, Jamie Valentino sprained an ankle while running during warmups before Friday’s game. He tried to play, but only lasted three shifts.
Mathew Gough is also injured and Jayden Harris is still on the injured list, as well, and Sheffield left Friday’s game with an injury.
To fill the gap, the Kings called up APs Madden Murray and Havryil Simchuk, who scored the only goal in Saturday’s shootout, while Murray was stopped in his attempt, which would have won the game for Dauphin.
“Madden Murray and Simchuk didn’t look out of place at all,” Hedley said.
Simchuk has been practicing with the Kings all year, so Hedley was aware of the talent he brings to the ice.
“We knew he’s got some skill and he’s patience,” he said.
The Kings conclude their regular season on Saturday in Winkler against the Flyers.
Hedley feels the league needs to change its playoff format and return to one division. There is a possibility the Wolverines could finish the season with 30 wins and still miss the playoffs.
“Wayway should be in the playoffs. They’re 11 points ahead of Niverville. It’s terrible. It’s not a good look on the league, at all,” he said. “I just think the playoff format needs to be looked at.”
Defenceman Owen Wareham was named to the league’s first all-star team along with Winkler defenceman Trent Sambrook. The forwards are Lucas Brennan of Selkirk, Briley Wood of Neepawa and Ryan Botterill of Portage, while the goaltender is Kobe Grant of Swan Valley. Named to the second all-star team were goaltender Tresor Wotton of Waywayseecappo, defencemen Brandon McCartney of Portage and Adam Rajsigl of Swan Valley and forwards Tyson Smith of Selkirk, Travis Hensrud of Steinbach and Carson Baptiste of Waywayseecappo. Selected to the rookie all-star team were goaltender Adam Comeau of Winkler, defencemen Carson Reed of Niverville and Warren Clark of Steinbach and forwards Carter Cormier of Selkirk, Nolan Chastko of Virden and Luke Janus of the Winnipeg Blues.