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Forward depth will be a strength this season


Players hoping to impress the Dauphin Kings coaching staff will have one more opportunity to do so when the Kings play their final preseason contest, Wednesday in Portage.
The Kings are 2-0 in preseason play so far, with a dominating 6-1 win over a Swan Valley Stampeders team which featured eight 15-year-olds and eight 16-year-olds, Sept. 21, and a convincing 8-3 win over the Neepawa Hockey Club, Sunday.
Grady Hobbs led the Kings with three goals and three assists, while Koby Morrisseau had a goal and four assists. Austin Lamotte added a pair as that line combined for 13 points.
Kings head coach and general manager Doug Hedley likes what he has seen on the ice right from the start of training camp.
“Since we started skating as a group, the speed has been fantastic and the work ethic has been, as well. Guys have come here ready to play and wanting to play and wear the crest,” he said.
“It’s been a great couple of weeks.”
Hedley noted some players were skating in Dauphin before camp and they were flying then, as well.
“They put some time in in the summer time. Guys are really excited about the season and you can see with the speed that we have we can create (plays) in different parts of the game. It’s very encouraging, for sure,” he said.
Hedley has been most impressed with the players’ timing and skill level.
“Even in camp, we were seeing scrimmages that you don’t usually see the passing on the tape and the skill set until they get the timing down. But it’s been here from the hop,” he said.
There were times in the game against Neepawa where the Kings were a bit scrambly. But Hedley said, once they spread out and got some support on pucks and started moving it with speed, it is tough for any team to handle.
“So it’s something we’ve got to focus on, for sure,” he said.
The Kings depended on their top five forwards for much of their offence last season, as well as defenceman Cole Dekoninck, who netted 21 goals. In fact the Kings only had seven players hit double digits in goals, last season.
Hedley expects that to change this year, with the likes of Hobbs, Morrisseau and Lamotte leading the way, along with Nakodan Greyeyes, Kaden Bryant and Vincent Nardone.
“There’s a top six there that is very fast and can finish. And then you look at the bottom six, we’re trying to figure out the right combination,” he said.
“We’ve got some good kids with speed. We’ve got some size, physicality part of the game. The depth of our forwards this year, we knew it was going to be a strength. It’s just a matter of getting the right guys, the right work ethic and the right attitude.”
The first cuts came yesterday, with more to come on Thursday, following Wednesday’s preseason tilt in Portage.
Hedley plans to carry 25 players into the start of the season, with five lines, eight defencemen and two goaltenders.
The battle in goal is coming down to a two-man fight for the backup position, with Matthias Smith entrenched as the number one goalie and Ian Lee and Matt Savoie looking to lock down the backup spot.
Local product Zach Grouette left the team last week, Hedley said.
“Zach made the decision. It wasn’t something that came from our side. It was his deciding to leave and move on,” he added.
Dauphin’s home and season opener goes, Oct. 9, when they host the Waywayseecappo Wolverines at 7:30 p.m.

Doug Zywina