(KINGSVILLE, ON) – By all accounts, the Kingsville Kings junior hockey club is having an excellent season. It may be unfair to compare this year’s team to the high-flying Kings of their inaugural season, who set records and came within a game of a Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League championship. With a record of 27-8-5, the latest collection of Kings is no slouch and should go deep into the playoffs.
Their record is good enough to currently sit third in the GMHL’s Southern Division. The last two games were exceptional showings as they rebounded from a frustrating loss to the first place overall Niagara Whalers on February 2.
The big question remaining this season, with two games to go in the regular season, will be if they’ll finish in the third or fourth seed. The implications could be major, as a fourth place finish would most likely pit them against the London Lakers, a team which owns five victories in nine games against the Kings this campaign.
The ideal third place finish would still be a challenge, as they would face either the Toronto Attack or Toronto Predators.
Regardless, these are all teams which Kingsville can beat in a best-of-five series, if discipline prevails.
“Very important two games,” said coach Michael Guzzo of the coming weekend. “We really need to focus on our game. We can’t worry about what else happens around the league; we control our own destiny …”
On February 3, the Kings travelled to St George for another nail-biting brawl with the second place Ravens. Kingsville’s Matyas Kasek scored the lone goal of the opening frame, on the power play, piercing the net with just under three minutes left on the clock.
In the second, Blake Naida extended the lead early on, but St George stormed back with goals from Carter Tracey and Adam Polomsky. Ondrej Tomek retook the Kings lead late in the act, but Tyler Hill responded twice, in short order, to close the period for a 4-3 Ravens advantage.
Late in the match, Kingsville’s Tyler Garcia knotted the game and sent it into overtime.
In the end, the matchup went to a shootout, where veteran goalie Wes Werner took over for the Kings. Werner’s three-save shootout shutout coupled with a goal from Miroslav Hylena, and Kingsville took home the two points.
“We stuck to our game plan versus St George,” said coach Guzzo. “Smart in all three zones; stayed positive. It was a good game to watch. St George played well and forced it to overtime …”
Werner was named the first star of the game, after turning aside 41 chances for the 5-4 win.
“He played well for us,” stated the Kings bench boss. “He made some key saves during the game, on the PK in overtime, and during the shootout.”
Tyler Lewis blocked 39 of 44 in the loss for the home side.
At home on Sunday, the Kings put the boots to the Tillsonburg Hurricanes, blasting them 9-1 in a high-shooting, chippy affair. Marek Malinsky and Garcia put the Kings up 2-0 in the first and in the middle stanza, led by Dan Leach’s natural hat-trick, Kingsville pushed the lead to 6-1.
A pair of snipes from Leach started things off, followed by a point blast from David Vostarek before Tillsonburg could get on the board with a goal from Mircea Constantin. Leach finished the one-period hatty with an unassisted marker late in the frame.
In the third, a pair of early power play goals by Naida and a single from Brendan Borg nailed down the win.
Windsor native Pierce Dubowski was solid in net stopping 22 of 23 Tillsonburg chances. Despite the ‘Canes having three goalies dressed, starting goalie Kyle Rarick was subjected to the full 66-shot assault at the other end.
“Work ethic, playing smart, shots to the net, crash the net, focus on what we can control and not what is happening with the other team or anything else,” said Guzzo, listing his team’s focuses going into the game. “Everyone was involved and helped secure the win and two points.”
Leach was named the first star of the game, tallying six points on the afternoon.
This Friday, the Kings travel to Tillsonburg for one final regular season showdown with the Hurricanes. On Sunday, Kingsville will host one last game before the playoffs, at 4 pm, against a possible first round opponent in the Toronto Predators.