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Kings Remain In First After Split With Wolverines

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The Dauphin Kings remain atop the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s West Division after a split with the Waywayseecappo Wolverines this past weekend.

Dauphin was hoping to put some space between themselves and the Wolverines and they did that when Mathew Rathbone scored in overtime to give the Kings a 2-1 overtime win, Friday in Waywayseecappo, opening a three-point gap.

But that was just temporary as the Wolverines pulled back to within a point of the Kings with a 3-1 win in Dauphin, Saturday.

Kings head coach and general manager Doug Hedley felt the Kings were the better team in both games this weekend.

“Sometimes that’s the way the puck bounces. We hit three crossbars, a post. We had some real good looks. And nine times out of 10, you’re scoring four or five goals,” he said.

Hedley felt the Kings played well enough to at least earn a point in the game.

“And they get a lucky bounce and it goes off the post and in. I told the guys in the room, they were in first place when we started playing them and we went 3-1 against them, so you can’t be upset with that,” he said.

It is all about getting better every game Hedley said, and now they will shift their focus on their next opponent, the Swan Valley Stampeders.

“A lot of good things are happening and we just have to stay positive,” he said, adding the power play had some good looks in the third period.

Slade Stanick is still out with a concussion, while Ethan Williment is still a couple of weeks away with a shoulder injury. Parker Fofonoff was out of the lineup for both games this weekend with a cold and will be back this week.

Kaito Umino, who played last Saturday in Waywayseecappo, has been released.

While he admits he is looking at the trade wire, Hedley feels the Kings are pretty solid on the backend and in goal.

“But right now, we’re happy with the group we have and, hopefully, we’ll continue to get better,” he added.

With the 7-8-0-1 Stampeders providing Dauphin’s next opposition, Hedley said the Kings will have to play fast and use their speed to be successful.

“They’ve got some big bodies, so we’ll be in a physical game and know that they’re well coached. They’re going to be prepared. And they’re actually playing probably the best hockey they’ve played all year, so it’s going to be a tough go,” he said.

Saturday’s game marked a milestone for Hedley as it was his 500th game as head coach of the Kings. And he is closing in on another milestone as he is eight wins away from 300 as Kings bench boss.

Although it took three different tenures with the club to reach these numbers, Hedley said, to get to 500 games in one community is a good thing.

Each time Hedley took over as coach, the Kings were in a rebuilding mode and he helped to make the team a contender each time.

“You have to have patience. You have to be prepared to take a few losses. I think every time I left the organization, they continued to do well,” he said. “So it’s not as if the coach coming in had a tough rebuild. He had a good nucleus and a good hockey club. A lot of time it’s what you leave and I’ve proud of the fact that two previous times I left here, they had very good hockey clubs.”

The Kings and Stampeders will kickoff their four-game set, Friday in Dauphin at 7:30 p.m., with game two, Saturday in Swan River at 7 p.m.

Kings court: With four goals and 17 points in 10 games, Colby Jaquet was named the Safe Work Manitoba Defenceman of the Month for October. Teammate Brayden Dube was selected as the IBAM Rookie of the Month after tallying nine goals and 13 points in nine games. Eric Fawkes of the Winnipeg Blues was the RBC Player of the Month after he scored five goals and 18 points in 10 games. His Blues teammate Dawson Green was named the Farmery Brewery Goaltender of the Month after posting a 1.62 GAA and .940 save percentage, while recording seven wins and one shutout. The highlight of the month for Green was when he scored into an empty net, Oct. 16, against Selkirk. Swan Valley’s Jamie Valentino was the Manitoba Pork Peak Performer, scoring eight goals and 15 points in nine games.

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Doug Zywina
REPORTER
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