(KINGSVILLE, ON) – The Kingsville Kings hockey club continues to battle in a starkly different Southern Division this season. The Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League can be a turbulent place for team and player turnover, as the Kings, the defending South Division champions, are quickly learning. Teams that were mere jokes last season are startling enigmas this year.
Case and point: the St. George Ravens. After relocating from Waterdown to the ex-home of the St. George Dukes Junior C club, the Ravens focused on recruitment and have come away a much strong threat. Last year, the Ravens met the Kings in the division final and were easily swept. Juxtaposed to this past Friday, a come-from-behind 7-5 win for St. George.
The improvement, and even near-parity, in the South Division has made a great opportunity for the fans of the Kings to see exciting and competitive hockey, as opposed to those numerous double-digit shellackings that were witnessed last season.
“I think that [the] parity in the league this year is great for the good of everybody; the fans and the teams,” said team president Tom Schinkelshoek. “You’re going to see some teams struggle at first, but by Christmas, we should have a good mix of teams that will fight for the cup.”
Kingsville made their first ever trip to the South Dumfries Community Centre to start their weekend. A weekend that did not start out so hot.
The Kings were rolling early. Only a minute in, veteran Blake Naida found the back of the net with help from Miroslav Hylena and Dane Leach. This was followed by a Matyas Kasek snipe with nine minutes to go in the frame. Helpers came from Leach and Jaromir Vlcek.
Leach scored his first goal of the game, from Naida, to make the score 3-0 2:40 into the middle act. But, the Ravens soon sprung to life.
Four unanswered St. George goals in under four minutes quickly change the landscape of the game. The first marker came from Greg Christmas, followed Matthew Harrington, Aaron Smith, and Nick Sherwood before Kingsville could normalize the situation.
Kasek would tie the game at four on a pass from Leach with 6:41 remaining. This was followed by a late period goal by Tyler Garcia on a feed from Jakub Mecir to put the Kings up before the intermission.
Things would fall apart in the third. The Ravens brought the momentum and outshot Kingsville 14-7. A three-goal run would spell the end for the Kings, as Chris Haigh, Chris Martin, and Sherwood would all cash in to take the game 7-5.
Justin Lalonde would suffer the loss in net, allowing seven goals on 43 attempts. Meanwhile, St. George’s Ryan Purcell scored the W, stopping 36 of 41.
Two days later, the Kings were back at home and ready to batter the Komoka Dragons. The afternoon matchup would be a close affair and Kingsville tender Chase Stanford battled hard to get his team the win.
It did not take long for the scoring to begin. Thirty-eight seconds into the game, Kasek slammed home an unassisted marker behind Komoka’s Jesse Martel to take the early lead.
Kingsville would hold the lead for much of the period, before Nelson Pescio lobbed a tying goal, on the 4-on-3 power play, past the mitt of Stanford. Just two minutes later, Hylena answered back for the Kings with a glove-beating rebound shot after the initial blast from Vlcek.
Early on in the middle frame, the Dragons re-knotted the score. Almost two minutes in, Mircea Constantin snapped a shot from the slot to make it 2-2.
Minutes later Kasek would respond with a one-time over the Komoka tender’s glove. Ondra Tomek and Hylena would get the helpers. Before the period could end, Naida extended the lead to two, popping the rebound off a stopped Garcia deke.
The Kings pushed their advantage to three, still early in the last act, when Hylena chipped in a loose puck at the top of the crease after an initial chance from Brendan Sorrels. Pescio would shorten the lead to 5-3 with over 11 minutes to play, but his Dragons could not beat Stanford again.
Stanford had a busy night stopping 46 of 49 for the victory. Martel allowed five goals against on 28 attempts in the loss.
Kingsville is back in action this Sunday, as the host the 2-2-1 Oshawa Riverkings at 3:00pm.