(KINGSVILLE, ON) – Nobody likes the shootout unless they win. Always a high-stress affair, the shootout is the goat for any hockey fan whose team has ever lost in one. But, regardless of opinion, it is a fair and balanced way of finishing a deadlocked hockey game in a timely fashion and, at any level, often leads the highlight reels.
Shootouts are sweet to win, but bitter to lose. The Kingsville Kings hockey club is currently tasting the latter.
Kingsville statistically dominated the London Lakers in their shootout loss on January 15, out-blasting their opposition 60-37. But, in the end, the Kings were dispatched by a 6-5 score after dropping the shootout in only two rounds.
“I thought the first ten minutes we played well, we had control, had a game plan in place, and we were controlling the game,” said coach Michael Guzzo. “After that, we shifted away from the plan, didn’t compete, didn’t show intensity. We need to play a full 60 [minutes] and play like our backs are always against the wall.”
The Kings opened the scoring in the first when, with three minutes left in the frame, Jakub Mecir sniped on the power play.
London’s Avery Antone tied the game early in the middle stanza, then Kingsville’s Jaromir Vlcek scored to retake the lead. Afterward, the Lakers sprung to life with Severin Christen popping a pair and Dominik Marks adding one more.
Kingsville knotted the game at four before the period could end with blasts from Tyler Garcia and another from Mecir.
Late in the third, Christen completed the hat-trick, but was answered with less than a minute to go by Kingsville’s Blake Naida, firing a laser from the point.
Overtime solved nothing and the dreaded shootout soon commenced.
London’s Matthew Cameron, who had a five-point night, was able to pot the winner for the Lakers as they won the shootout 2-0.
Naoki Onodera was stellar in the Lakers net, turning aside 55 of 60 Kings chances, while Kingsville’s Chase Stanford made 31 saves for the regulation tie.
“It’s frustrating when we out-shoot them by such a large margin,” said Guzzo. “You can’t take anything away from London’s goalie. He made some saves when his team needed [him] to and they were big saves. We have to find ways to capitalize on our chances, though, take the goalie’s line of sight away, bear down on our chances. You just have to have that fire in your heart and we didn’t have it the whole game.”
Despite the disparity in the shot column, the Kings led just briefly in the game. Kingsville did show resilience, though, as they battled back from a two-goal deficit in the second and from what appeared to be a London game-winner in the third.
“The big thing is staying positive,” said Guzzo. He added that if his players, “… have a shift that wasn’t great, the next line needs to pick it up for them when they go out …”
The Kings are next in action on January 21, when they travel to Toronto to meet the Predators. The next afternoon they host the Tillsonburg Hurricanes at 3:00pm at Kingsville Arena.