After a pair of losses, the Wheatland Kings had apparently decided enough was enough.
During their game against the Kainai Braves on Oct. 16 at the Strathmore Family Centre, the Kings came out swinging and bulldozed their way to a 7-1 victory.
“It’s about time, the boys have been working hard for a while and we finally actually stepped it up and got 60 minutes of hockey out of them tonight. It’s something we needed badly and we finally got it,” said head coach Ron West.
The Kings wasted no time in the first period to take the first goal of the game, then used that momentum to score a second time immediately after.
Early into the second period, the Braves managed to sneak one by the Kings. The boys presumably did not much enjoy their lead being threatened and answered right back with another two quick successive goals.
“It’s been something we’ve been trying to do, whenever we get up early on the teams that we actually push and close them out,” said West. “We don’t let them get back into the game usually if we get up two or three.”
The Kings would go on to score again at the very end of the second period with 16 seconds left on the clock, marking a 5-1 lead going into the third.
For the majority of the third period, both teams were shooting back and forth, unable to make any plays happen. With roughly nine minutes and thirty seconds left in the game, the Kings closed in on their sixth goal of the night.
“The tempo was definitely up and we continued to push it in the second and third periods, so it was good,” added West. “Even the top teams that we’ve been playing, we’ve been right in it for the last 10 (minutes) and now we have to step it up and I felt tonight … they were able to get 60 minutes of hockey and we closed the deal.”
At the end of the period, with 36 seconds left, the boys snuck the final nail in the coffin for the Braves. The third period ended with the having 38 shots, scoring seven and suffering two penalties over the course of the game.
“This is a big win after losing last night 7-6, which was a tough loss for us when we actually outplayed them (and) outshot them,” said West. “We needed this win tonight and we need two more wins next week.”
He added though the boys played overall very well, he wants to see more control over the puck in the neutral zone of the rink and less fighting.
“I think we’re still a little weak when we go through the neutral zone, we need to be stronger when the opponent’s coming on us and force them to the outsides,” said West. “We’re just not doing that enough yet.”
The Kings have not yet lost to the Braves thus far this season and will play them twice more before the season concludes.
The Kings will now square off against the Lomond Lakers in the Vulcan Arena on Oct. 22 (7:30 p.m.) before returning home the following day to host the High River Flyers at 8 p.m.
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times