This past Friday, the Kings headed up to Beamsville and conquered the Lincoln Mavericks 4-1. Then, short some key players to a pro hockey call-up, Kingsville dominated their rivals, the London Lakers, with a 6-3 win at home Sunday afternoon.
“I think with any streak, you don’t want it to end, so you find ways to get the job done,” said head coach Michael Guzzo. “Sometimes they are ugly games and you aren’t getting the bounces, but you keep battling and playing through. I think that’s a big upside for us, right now, to keep competing and battling.”
In Beamsville, the Kings started their attack early. Just over three minutes in, Kingsville’s Jente Wellens popped his first goal of the season with some help from Jaromir Vlcek.
Midway through the frame, Tyler Garcia added to the lead with an unassisted marker. Soon after, Thomas McKinnon netted his first of the year as well, making the score 3-zilch Kings. Miroslav Hylena and Matyas Kasek picked up helpers on McKinnon’s goal.
In an already chippy game, Lincoln could not keep out of the box in the second. Despite 14 minutes in the sin bin, the Mavericks’ net was only trespassed once when Wellens picked up his second of the game and season, assisted by McKinnon.
The Kings outshot their foes 10-1 in the frame.
Lincoln managed to outshoot Kingsville in the third well taking advantage of six power plays. The Mavericks would crack Kings goalie Justin Lalonde’s shutout with just over six minutes to go on a man-up blast from David Senecal. The score would stand at 4-1 for the road warriors.
Lalonde stopped 15 shots for the win while Ruslan Sharafutdinov turned away 26 of 30 Kingsville attempts. Lalonde now ranks fourth in the GMHL with a 2.33 goals against average.
“Lincoln played a good game,” said the Kings’ coach. “They played hard and competed the whole game. Our team was able to play a good first two periods on the road and Lalonde played a great third for us.”
Sunday’s afternoon home-stand was played without the services of veterans Dan Leach and David Vostarek. The duo were honoured with a call-up to play for the St Clair Shores Fighting Saints of the semi-professional Federal Hockey League in their home opener.
The Lakers, along with the Kings, are in the upper echelon of the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League’s South Division, kept up with Kingsville in the shot department, but could not keep up on the scoreboard.
Not even two minutes into the battle, Marvin Simmons cracked the twine behind London starter Raymond Smith. Minutes later, Brendan Hitchcock extended the lead for the Kings.
As the opening frame crept forward, the two adversaries were each plagued with penalties. With minutes to go, Miroslav Hylena walked in on the net from deep in the corner and shelved the puck, short-side, over Smith’s trapper.
Before the period could end, Adam Kusior picked off a Lakers pass and came in all alone on Smith, faking, then beating the tender through the five-hole.
Down 4-0, London elected to switch to backup goalie Naoki Onondera, as Smith had been beaten four times on eight attempts in the first.
The game settled down in the middle stanza. Penalties greatly declined; and, so did the scoring.
Later in the period, Garcia added to Kingsville’s lead with a toe-drag on a breakaway, going short-side over Onondera’s blocker. A little later, the Lakers finally snapped their scoring drought when Avery Antone eluded Kings goalie Chase Stanford with a backhand through the legs from the top of the crease.
London attempted a comeback at the beginning of the third act, but it would fall short. A pair of blasts off cross-ice feeds by Justin Cheng and Regan Yew put the game back within a pair.
Simmons’ goal with seven minutes remaining would serve as the final nail in the coffin for the Lakers, when the Kings sniper beat Onondera with a wrister past the blocker on a short walk-in.
Blake Naida led the way in the assists department with three. Kusior, Brendan Sorrels, Jakub Mecir, and Kasek each added a single helper.
Stanford moved into fifth place in the GMHL with his sixth win in net, stopping 31 shots in the match. Onondera turned aside 20 of 22 in relief for Smith.
“London is a two-hour trip. You could call it a rivalry and I think it showed on Sunday,” said Guzzo on Monday. “We came out strong in the first and played very well, but London never quit. It was back and forth the second and the third. They came out strong and played really well against us. Chase [Stanford] played a great game and the players were buzzing off his energy and big saves.”
Leach and Vostarek, played with the Fighting Saints against the Port Huron Prowlers later that night. The rosters of both teams were dappled with former Kings for the two to compete with and against.
Alongside the current Kings were last year’s GMHL goalie of the year Jan Pechek, along with Robin Vortanov, Zach Zulkanycz, and Ivan Hodulov. Meanwhile, the Prowlers featured the offense of Branko Oktavec.
Although the Fighting Saints lost their inaugural game on Sunday, a 3-2 shootout loss, Vostarek would permanently make his mark with the club by scoring the first goal in franchise history, with just under three minutes to go in the first period.
Kings alumni Zulkanycz netted the other goal and also picked up an assist on Vostarek’s marker.
“I didn’t get a chance to watch their games, but I spoke with them and they played well,” said coach Guzzo, of Leach and Vostarek. “I think it’s a big time opportunity we have with St Clair Shores, only about [a half hour] away, for our players to get noticed and have [an] opportunity to play in the FHL.”
In what will be an exciting, but tenuous weekend, the Kings will play back-to-back-to-back games over the Friday to Sunday stretch.
Friday night, Kingsville travels to Port Colbourne in an attempt to avenge their loss from earlier in the season to the Niagara Whalers. The next night, the locals will be off to London, then on Sunday afternoon, at 3:00pm, the Kings will host the Tottenham Steam, at the Kingsville Arena, for the first time since game seven of last year’s Russell Cup final.