(KINGSVILLE, ON) – It came down to a question of whether the North York Renegades could stay perfect for their last three games of Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League action, or not. In a footrace with the Kingsville Kings, the Renegades could overtake them for third place in the South Division if they went three for three.
The Kings, who polished off the Tillsonburg Hurricanes and Toronto Predators over the weekend, to reach 63 points and finish their season, had to sit, watch, and see if North York could match their point total and surpass them via tiebreaker.
Playing the Predators on Tuesday, who Kingsville dispatched on Sunday at home, in front of a large, partisan crowd, the Renegades failed to keep the streak alive by falling 4-2 and handing third place to the Kings.
“Having the right mindset was key to our last two victories,” said head coach Michael Guzzo. “At the end of the day we controlled the outcome of the games and that’s what we wanted. We wanted to get four points and we did. Whatever happens between other teams, we can’t worry about it.”
With the third seed, Kingsville drew the sixth place Toronto Attack in a best-of-five division quarter-final. The Kings had a win and an overtime loss against the Attack this season.
On Friday, Kingsville took to the road to face the Tillsonburg Hurricanes for the final time this season. The Kings easily weathered the storm, flattening the ‘Canes 13-4.
Adam Kusior led Kingsville in scoring with two goals and two assists. Dan Leach, Kasek Matyas, and Marek Malinsky each added a pair, while David Vostarek, Ondrej Tomek, Brendan Mackenzie, Jente Wellens, and captain Zach McDonough each contributed singles.
Logan Kerner, Julius Olssen, Greg Tucci, and Noah Demelo scored for the Hurricanes.
Justin Lalonde took the win in net, stopping 24 of 28 shots, while Josh Greisbrecht allowed 12 goals on 51 tries and Andreas Logothetis turned aside 4 of 5 in relief at the other end.
Kingsville played their final game of the season on Sunday, hosting the Predators. The Kings smashed the Preds 7-2, which is ironic, considering only two evenings later the Predators did Kingsville a solid by taking out North York.
Windsor native Pierce Dubowski picked up his eighth win of the season in net after blocking 23 of 25 Toronto chances. Malinsky and Blake Naida blasted two snipes apiece, while Wellens, Kasek, Leach, and Miroslav Hylena all added lone markers.
Andrei Vasile and Gregory Tucker each tallied for the Preds, while Noah Battaglia stopped 40 of 47 chances in the loss.
Now the Kings must focus as the real hockey begins.
“The biggest thing for us was having a mindset that playoffs are a week away and we want to be ready for them,” said coach Guzzo. “We played the last two games like they were playoff games.”
The Kings have home advantage in their quarter-final series against the Toronto Attack. Regardless, the Attack (22-20-0) are a legitimate threat and will be looking for an upset.
“They play hard and in-your-face hockey,” said Guzzo on Wednesday. “We have to be a very disciplined team and play smart hockey. We don’t want this to be a special teams series, we want to play five-on-five hockey and get everyone involved and have everyone contribute. We have a good four days of practice left and we will work on some key things to get us prepared for Toronto. [We] look forward to a good series.”
The Kings host game one on Sunday at the Kingsville Arena, with the puck dropping at 3:00pm.