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Kings Split With Blizzard, Pull Into Tie For First

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The Dauphin Kings find themselves in a tie for first place following a weekend split with the OCN Blizzard.

Nick Pineo stopped all 45 shots he faced in leading OCN to a 3-0 win, Friday in The Pas.

It was a different story on Sunday in Dauphin when the Kings chased Pineo from the net with three power-play goals in a span of 6:50 to start the second period en route to a 4-1 triumph.

The win improved Dauphin’s record to 4-2-0-0 on the young season. Dauphin is tied with the Waywayseecappo Wolverines for first place in the West Division, one point ahead of the Blizzard, two in front of Swan Valley and only three up on Virden and Neepawa, who are tied with five points each.

Kings head coach and general manager Doug Hedley said Sunday’s win was a nice way to rebound from Friday’s loss.

“We had 23 shots in the third period up there, but we just couldn’t get by the guy. You’ve got to give him credit for stopping the pucks. He was in the right place at the right time, but he didn’t see a lot of them. We hit about five posts,” he said. “We’ve just got to get a little bit more grit, a little more willingness to compete in battles.”

Hedley felt the Kings got better in the last two periods, noting the power play was the difference in the game.

“Once we got to the kid, I think we exposed him a bit. But we got some big goals on the power play,” he said.

The split with OCN serves as an example of the parity in the league, especially in the West Division.

“You look at the division and there’s not much difference,” Hedley said. “Every game is going to make a difference, especially when only the top four make the playoffs. You’re going to have to be prepared to play every four-game set.”

Hedley feels the players need to use their speed more, noting they are a fast hockey club.

“We do have speed. When we pass the puck D-to-D and up, quick transition, we’re very tough to play against, because we have good speed. It’s definitely one of our strengths. We’ve got to work on it,” he said. “But we have to get better in our D zone at times. We have to get smarter with pucks at times. But with the puck movement we had tonight, it’s something to build on.”

The Kings also need to get better at driving the net, Hedley added.

“We have to get hungry going to the paint. We don’t have enough middle lane attack, enough guys going hard on the heels of the D-men to get pucks in behind the D unit and make more things happen. Once we do that, I think we’re going to be awfully tough to play against,” he said.

Parker Malchuk missed both games with a hairline fracture in his wrist and will be out for two weeks. Forward Matthew Rathbone will be in Dauphin this week after receiving his second vaccination. Lucas Hand suffered a concussion and left the team to go home to attend school.

The Kings and Blizzard hook up again, Friday at Credit Union Place at 7:30 p.m. and will end the four-game segment, Sunday in OCN at 7 p.m.

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Doug Zywina
REPORTER
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