(KINGSVILLE, ON) – Two overtimes, two different outcomes. The Kingsville Kings junior hockey club had a stressful weekend, where they picked up three of a possible four points against the Toronto Predators and Tillsonburg Hurricanes.
On January 21, the Kings were in Toronto for their first meeting of the season with the Predators. Despite building up a three-goal lead in just a little over a period of play, Kingsville was unable to hold off a patient Toronto squad, who clawed back to force overtime.
The Predators took the game with one second left in the extra frame, scoring their fourth consecutive unanswered goal.
According to the reported game stats, the Kings outshot their opponents 54-20.
Scoring for Kingsville were Tyler Garcia, Marek Gharibyar, and Miles Miroslav. Toronto responded with goals from Lukas Samuelsson, Jesse Georgopoulos, Connor Kearney, and Denzel Janes, with the game-winner.
Austin Nienhuis, the Predators goalie and first star of the game, stopped 51 shots for the 4-3 win. At the other end, Justin Lalonde turned aside 16 for Kingsville.
“We got off to a good start versus the Preds. We played well, [but in the] second and third period we didn’t have our best two periods,” said Kings coach Michael Guzzo. “We let the game slip away from us when we should have put them away. Give the Preds credit, they didn’t stop playing and fighting to get back in the game. At the end of the day, we got one point from the game, but those are games we should be getting two points and playing our best hockey.”
A come-from-behind loss is difficult to swallow at the best of times, but the Kings needed to make a quick turnaround.
“I think anytime you lose in overtime with [one second] left on the clock it’s always tough,” explained the coach. “But the game was over and we couldn’t do anything about that game anymore. We had to shift our focus to Tillsonburg because we had them in 12 hours.”
The next afternoon, the Kings hosted the Tillsonburg Hurricanes at Kingsville Arena. The two teams are quite familiar with each other and were meeting for the fifth time of the season on Sunday.
The Hurricanes opened the scoring late in the first frame when Noah DeMelo tallied. In the second, amid a plethora of penalties, the Kings brought the game to a tie, then Tillsonburg surged ahead.
Garcia scored first, just under three minutes in, but was answered by Logan Kerner for the ‘Canes. Later in the period, Mircea Constantin added to the Tillsonburg lead, before Matyas Kasek of the Kings shortened it to one.
Garcia tallied again, early in the third act, to knot the game at three.
Regulation ended and with six goals between the two teams, and not a single one was scored at even strength.
Overtime resolved nothing and the rivals went to the shootout. Seconds before the extra frame could end, however, Kingsville goalie and Windsor native Pierce Dubowski saved the game for his team, kicking out a shot at the open net with a sliding kick-save.
Again, in the shootout, Dubowski played the star, stopping all three shots, one, a sweeping glove save that left the crowd in awe.
Ondrej Tomek scored the only goal of the shootout, defying ‘Canes goalie Kyle Rarick with a straight shot from the low slot, giving his team the 4-3 win.
“You could tell we had some travel legs and lack of sleep in the first few shifts,” said Guzzo after the game. “You could see that we played 12 hours ago and we needed to find a way to battle through the fatigue. We knew Tillsonburg got stronger over the break, picking up players, getting healthy, et cetera. And, they showed it. [Also,] their goalie played well and made some good saves.”
Rarick was named the first star of the game despite the loss, turning aside 75 of 79 shots in the game. Dubowski took the victory and the second star, blocking 42 of 45 in what was just an absolute shooting gallery.
“I thought Pierce played a good game for us,” commented Guzzo. “He made some stops for us when we needed them and especially during the 5-on-3 [disadvantage during the second period]. They always say your best penalty killer needs to be your goalie. He stopped all three during the shootout and that’s what we needed.”
The Kings are back in action on Sunday as they host the London Lakers for the final time of their season-long grudge match. In what will be their final of nine seasonal match-ups, the Kings are 4-2-2, in head-to-head against their biggest rivals.