(KINGSVILLE, ON) – The Kingsville Kings junior hockey club ushered in 2017 with a big win over a key opponent on Sunday. Taking the London Lakers 5-2 in Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League action, the win also marked the home debut of returning veteran goalie Wes Werner.
After a scoreless, but incredibly chippy opening frame, the Lakers broke open the scoring just over a minute into the middle act with a goal from Matej Klust. He was quickly answered as Kingsville’s Miroslav Hylena sniped one and Tyler Garcia added a go-ahead power play marker before the period was out.
Klust and Kingsville’s Blake Naida were ejected for fighting just before time.
Early in the third, London battled back to tie the game on the man advantage, with a blast from Lodie Jr Ipeelie. From that point on, the game was all Kings.
Marek Malinsky potted a pair, with another from Ondrej Tomek, and Kingsville took home their 24th win of the season.
Werner made 22 saves for his second win in as many games, while Raymond Smith turned aside 46 for the Lakers.
Matyas Kasek led the way in the assist department with two, while Brendan Sorrels, Jakub Mecir, Tomek, Hylena, and Naida each added singles.
“We played a good game,” said coach Michael Guzzo. “[In] all three zones we played smart, created opportunities in the offensive zone, and didn’t allow many odd man rushes against.”
London held on for dear life through most of the game, but the Kings were too much for them in the third.
“I think we had the same mentality throughout the whole game; we didn’t change much going into the third,” explained the coach. “We stuck to our system and game plan and created opportunity for ourselves and the biggest thing was we capitalized on the opportunity.”
With the comeback of veteran goalie Wes Werner, the Kings’ crease has now been filled to capacity. Werner has made an instant impact and also gave Kingsville their first win against the league-leading Niagara Whalers just before the holiday break.
“We have four goalies who are all capable of winning hockey games for us,” said Guzzo of Werner, Justin Lalonde, Chase Stanford, and Pierce Dubowski. “[Werner] came in before the break and has played very well for us. We have nine games left and we are going to evaluate all our goalies and, as a staff, make a decision when the time comes.”
On Tuesday, Guzzo, along with Stanford, captain Zach McDonough, and Jaromir Vlcek, travelled to Tillsonburg for the GMHL all-star game as members of the Team World All-Stars. The world team prevailed over the Team Canada All-Stars 6-3.
“Tillsonburg did a great job hosting the all-star game,” stated Guzzo. “It was a huge honor to be picked, to be a coach, and participate in a great event with my players and players from around the league. The atmosphere was great, the hospitality was fantastic, and the players and coaches had a great time. I couldn’t be more proud of [McDonough, Vlcek, and Stanford] for participating and representing the Kings and the organization.”
Stanford was solid in net, playing in the second and allowing only one goal in 20 minutes of play while picking up the statistical win.