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Inconsistency continues to plague Kings

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Mathematically, the Dauphin Kings are still in the running for a playoff spot in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.
Realistically, though, they are playing for next year. And as the 2017-18 season winds down, the Kings are struggling to find the consistent effort which has been lacking all season.
It was apparent in three games last week, in which the Kings won just once, a 4-3 overtime victory over the Waywayseecappo Wolverines, Friday in Waywayseecappo.
That win was sandwiched between a 5-2 loss to the OCN Blizzard, last Tuesday in OCN and a 7-4 loss to the Winnipeg Blues on home ice, Saturday as part of Ukrainian Night.
Even in the win, the Kings were inconsistent, trailing three separate times, before finally prevailing in overtime.
Kings interim head coach and general manager Mitch Giguere said the Kings did not play well in four of the six periods they played over the weekend.
“We didn’t like the first two periods (Friday) night in Wayway. We trailed three times, but we found a way to win that game. Sometimes we deserve to win and we’re not winning,” he said.
The Kings got off to a good start Saturday against Winnipeg, taking an early lead, 3:55 into the game.
“After that we were just puck watching. We gave too many odd man rushes, making mistakes with the puck. The first two goals were two-on-ones or breakaways, because we were making bad decisions by pinching,” Giguere said.
After Dauphin took the early lead, the Blues scored three in each of the first two periods and added a seventh straight tally 25 seconds into the third. The Kings answered right back 12 seconds after Winnipeg’s seventh goal and added two more in the third to make the score a little more respectable.
The Kings had their chances in the middle frame, missing several open nets, which could have turned the game around.
“We had a good chat with the players between the second and third period, just to take some pride when you’re on the ice. As a coaching staff, we were at the point where maybe half the team didn’t work enough in the first two periods, so we just gave more ice time to the players that deserved it,” Giguere said.
“I think we made a statement in the third period. We were trailing 6-1 and the game was 7-4 at the end.”
Giguere made a bold move, pulling the goaltender with more than five minutes remaining. The Kings scored once with the extra attacker and kept Winnipeg from scoring into the empty net.
When asked why he pulled the goalie at that time, Giguere’s response was simple.
“Why not?” he said.
As a coach, he said, you do all your homework to prepare for games during the week and once the game starts, you cannot change your systems. And the Kings, Giguere pointed out, do not have an impact player who can score a goal when needed.
“As a coach, it’s just making sure we have the right line at the same time. So it was just to prove to the players that we still believe. We still believe in the team, we still believe in what we’re trying to achieve,” he said.
On the bench, Giguere asked the players if they would make a push if he pulled the goaltender, which is what they did. The Kings scored once and had numerous other chances, including hitting a goal post.
“It was taking a chance and we were right on this one,” he said.
As they prepare to host the Wolverines, Friday and the Selkirk Steelers on Saturday, Giguere hopes the players realize they are a different team when they work hard.
“When we’re working, it’s like night and day. That’s the biggest difference. If you want to achieve something with and without the puck, you need to work. And we saw that in the third (on Saturday), same as (Friday) in the third period and overtime,” he said.
“I’m not asking them to erase everything. But just build on that. We still have plenty of games in front of us and the process is still building. So we just need to make sure that we follow the process. We’re just getting better and better, but we need to make sure that we play a full 60 minutes.”
Both games this weekend begin at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday’s game aside, Giguere was impressed with the festivities surrounding Ukrainian Night, which drew a crowd of 2,068. He said he has coached in front of larger crowds before, but the atmosphere on Saturday was different than anything he experienced before.
“The crowd was loud, yelling. There was all different things between periods. The food. I was more than happy to do it once. I really hope that will be back next year, because I think every coach and player needs to be there at least once. Just wow,” he said.
Giguere was not expecting the evening to be so big, with music everywhere, as well as the large crowd. He was especially impressed with the jerseys, which he felt were more beautiful than last year’s.
“I don’t know who made that jersey, but they made it great this year,” he said.

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Doug Zywina
REPORTER
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