(TILBURY, ON) – The Kingsville Kings have just one game left on their Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League schedule and are the masters of their own fate. After a forfeit loss due to weather on Friday, and a clutch victory over the second place Niagara Whalers on Saturday, the kings followed it up with a 6-2 win over Tillsonburg last night.
Kingsville is still in a three-way dog race for second overall. The good news, however, is that their competition, Niagara and the North York Renegades, only have one game remaining, as well. Niagara currently sits one point ahead of North York and one behind the Kings, at 63 points.
On Saturday, the Kings (31-8-0) hosted the Whalers at Tilbury Arena and skated away with a 6-3 victory. The Whalers were first to strike, and that they did quickly, as Brandon Lindberg smacked the puck behind Kingsville goalie Adam Zeman only 23 seconds into the match. Midway through the frame, Thomas McKinnon evened the game on the power play for the Kings.
Later in the period, Zachary Dillen gave Kingsville the go-ahead with five minutes to go while on the advantage.
In the second, things got chippy as the Kings began to assert themselves over their rival. After surviving three consecutive penalty kills, Kingsville pushed their lead to 3-1 with a snipe from Petr Panacek, but Niagara’s Frolov Mikhail responded before the midpoint of the stanza to bring the game back within one.
Late in the period, Niagara’s Ethan Spaxman took a slashing minor and Lindberg, his teammate, was ejected from the match. Kings captain Blake Naida responded for the locals, bringing the score to 4-2 into the intermission.
The Whalers were not done. In the 3rd, David Christopher halved Kingsville’s lead with under five minutes to go. Despite this, the Kings did not fall apart and added a pair of insurance markers from Daniel Krizek and Thomas McKinnon, to finish off their foes.
Zeman was solid between the pipes, improving his season record to 2-1-0 and stopping 39 of 42 Niagara chances. Will Harvey took the loss for the Whalers, turning aside 32 shots.
Naida led Kingsville with two 1st period markers last night in Tillsonburg. Jakub Hendrych (power play) and Nicholas Lang made it 4-0 in the 2nd period before Nathan Innes and Gray Sinden put the Hurricanes on the board. Filip Kafka tallied for the Kings in the 3rd and Hendrych rounded out the scoring for the win. Nicolas Jouanne made 24 saves for the victory.
The Kings can rely on North York and Niagara to lose their final games to secure 2nd overall, or they can take matters into their own hands and earn the position with a win Sunday at home against the Northumberland Stars (15-17-7). The puck drop is at 3pm.
Kingsville will likely host Northumberland in the first round of the GMHL playoffs, if there are no changes to the current standings.
-with files from Ian Shalapata