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Kings open season with a split against Stamps

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Two games into the 2019-20 Manitoba Junior Hockey League season and the Dauphin Kings are already giving their penalty killing unit a workout.
The Kings earned a split in a home-and-home with the Swan Valley Stampeders on opening weekend in the MJHL.
Swan Valley scored four goals in the second period en route to a 6-4 win, Friday in Swan River.
On Saturday in Dauphin, Baron Thompson had two goals and an assist, Brendan Arnold had two goals and Bryan Landsberger made 42 saves to lead the Kings to a 6-4 victory.
One of the stories of the weekend was the lack of discipline on Dauphin’s part as the Stampeders had 15 power plays in the two games.
The lack of discipline played a role in the season-opening loss on Friday.
“Our penalty killing was fine. But we get set back on our heels,” said Kings head coach and general manager Doug Hedley, adding the defence did not look strong.
“I think we turned pucks over too much. We put teammates in pressure. We didn’t pass the puck unless we had pressure. And then all of a sudden, he was under pressure and then the forwards were under pressure. It wasn’t good.”
Matthias Smith took the loss in goal and kept the Kings in the game in the opening period when Swan Valley outshot the Kings 14-7, though Dauphin came out of the period with a 1-0 lead.
“The last 40 there was probably some goals he’d like to have back,” Hedley added.
Swan Valley, Hedley added, had some energy and came at the Kings hard.
“They’ve got a big team in a small arena and made it difficult,” he said.
“I didn’t think we competed the way we should compete. We didn’t use our speed enough.”
That was not the case in Saturday’s home opener in front of 1,067 spectators, when the Kings used their speed to create a lot of scoring opportunities.
“The speed and getting pucks to forwards fast. That’s how you have speed. If your d-men try ot carry the puck all the time, your forwards are stopped. So you’ve got to get pucks to forwards and you’ve got to get pucks in behind their D,” Hedley said.
“Their D unit is big. They’ve got good size. We know we can beat them to pucks. So as long as we keep getting pucks in behind them, we’ll make them turn. And tonight I thought we did a good job of that. And we sawed their hands off a lot of times on the forecheck and they couldn’t move the puck and we had turnovers. So we created a lot of opportunities from it.”
Hedley felt Stampeders starter Michael Davis played better, Saturday than he did on Friday even though the Kings chased him from the net in the third period of Saturday’s game.
Dauphin could have had more than the three goals they ended up with on Friday.
“There was a lot of rebounds last night that we couldn’t get to. Tonight, I thought he was very solid and controlled his rebounds. We just found ways to make it happen later in the game,” Hedley said.
The line of Nakodan Greyeyes (one goal, one assist), Thompson (two goals and one assist) and Austin Lamotte (two assists) combined for seven points and has played well in the two games thus far.
Greyeyes, especially, has caught the eye of the head coach.
“I think Nakodan has been our best player through the first two games of the season. He’s really competing this year. He’s winning stick battles. He’s jumping, he’s got some foot speed. And then putting Tommy with him has just made him that much better as a player,” he said.
The Kings only have one game this week, a road game tonight against the Waywayseecappo Wolverines.
Hedley would like to see his team get better on the rush defence.
“I think we’ve got to really shut the middle lane down and have our d-men stand up at the blueline and try to get a piece of the forwards as much as we can. But that happens when you have back pressure. If you have back pressure and your forwards are coming back hard, d-men are allowed to stand up,” he said.
“I think we’re going to have to do that against Wayway because they work hard and they really attack the net. So we’re really going to have to be good defensively.”
The Kings had to cut loose one of their eight 20-year-olds to get down to the limit of seven and the unfortunate victim was Dauphin’s own Bradyn Smelski, who played under Hedley at the U18 level, as well as last season.
“The unfortunate part about it is it wasn’t because he’s not good enough to play. It was more of a 20-year-old situation where we had guys that we felt could play a little bit different role than Smel could. He’s not a real physical player at times. He can be, but it just came down to numbers on the 20 year olds,” he said, adding he is working to find Smelski a place to play this season.
“I want him to finish his 20-year-old year playing junior.”
Forward Koby Morrisseau is not with the team after taking a personal leave of absence.
“It’s a personal situation with him. We’re hoping sooner or later we get him back here. But he’s got to make sure that he’s good to play,” Hedley said.
“Whether it’s the medical part of getting cleared from the concussions that he’s had or whether it’s some personal stuff he has going on off-ice, whatever it is, we’re there for him. We’ll do as much as we can for Koby. Forget about the hockey player thing, it’s more about a person now. But we’re hoping at some point in the season that we end up with a good hockey player back.”
With 27 players still in camp, there are still some cuts to be made. The Kings currently have 14 forwards, 10 defencemen and three goaltenders.
After facing Waywayseecappo tonight, Dauphin’s next game will be, Sept. 30, at the Showcase in Winnipeg against Swan Valley.

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Doug Zywina
REPORTER
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