(KINGSVILLE, ON) – On October 30, the Kingsville Kings hockey club claimed their 11th straight victory. Since then, however, the local Greater Metro Junior A hockey club has won six of 12. Regardless, the Kings still sit in second place in the GMHL’s South Division with a record of 19-6-3.
As previously reported, parity has increased in the GMHL this season as skill levels have risen and the number of teams has dropped starkly. This year the biggest beneficiaries of this heightened parity are the Niagara Whalers, London Lakers, Toronto Attack, St George Ravens, and North York Renegades.
All but North York own wins over the local crew.
With a 4-2 road loss to the Lakers on Saturday, the Kings’ season record against London dropped to 3-3. The two rivals will meet three more times this year in what will, no doubt, be engaging and exciting contests for fans of both clubs.
London’s Ray Smith, a Texas-bred goaltender, who has played most of his junior hockey in Montana, was the thorn in the side of Kingsville on Saturday, turning aside 58 of 60 attempts in the win.
The Lakers took advantage of multiple power plays in the first period, netting man-up markers from Tyson Levesque and Scott Goodmen. Tyler Garcia broke Smith’s goose egg late in the second to bring Kingsville back to within one.
In the final act, Matthew Cameron reasserted London’s two-goal advantage a minute in. London held on for dear life as the Kings peppered Smith in an attempt to make their comeback a reality.
Not helping the Lakers’ cause was an interference minor and a single fighting major handed out to Jake Trask not long after Cameron’s goal. The Kings only found the back of the net once on the advantage; a goal by Matyas Kasek.
After the penalty was killed, London’s Regan Yew pushed the lead back to two.
Smith would deny Kingsville 33 times in the final period and was named the first star of the game. Kingsville starter Chase Stanford allowed four goals on 36 Lakers chances.
“We had some mistakes that cost us and that was the difference,” said Kings head coach Michael Guzzo. “Capitalizing on our chances is something we need to get better at as well.”
The next evening, the Kings hosted the Niagara Whalers. Going into the game, Kingsville held a 0-1-1 record against the Whalers, who own a league-best 24-1-0.
It was Kingsville who struck first blood when Marek Malinsky opened up scoring with just over five minutes remaining in the first. Niagara responded minutes later with a power-play snipe from Brandon Cercone.
The lone goal of the middle stanza came from Whaler Paolo Sivilotti; an unassisted marker 7:42 into the frame. Sivilotti struck again in the third, bringing the tally to 3-1 in Niagara’s favour. Cercone scored another goal just over eight minutes in.
Kingsville’s Dan Leach brought the game back within two halfway through the period, but he was bookended by Cercone who finished off his hat-trick with a goal on the man advantage.
Finnish goalie Maksim Kuteinikov picked up the 5-2 win in net for Niagara, stopping 34 Kings attempts. Justin Lalonde took the loss for Kingsville, allowing four goals on 30 shots in over 48 minutes of play, and Stanford turned aside 7 of 8 in relief.
“Niagara is a good team. A few penalties that we took cost us,” commented Guzzo after the game. “They had three power play goals. [The] easiest way to stop the PP is stay out of the box. We need to get better at our special teams. Too many opportunities we didn’t capitalize on.”
The Kings are next in action tonight when they travel to North York to take on the Toronto Attack. Their next home game will be at 3:00pm on Sunday at Kingsville Arena, as they host the Tillsonburg Hurricanes.