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Winning Streak Reaches Eight After Busy Week

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The Dauphin Kings are firing on all cylinders as evidenced by their current eight-game winning streak.

The busiest week of the season saw the Kings win four games, including two against the top two teams in the East Division.

Kaden Bryant had a week to remember as he scored three times and added an assist to lead the Kings to a 6-2 win over the Steinbach Pistons, at the Showcase in Portage on Tuesday.

Bryant was at it again the next day, scoring another hat trick in a 5-2 win over the Winnipeg Blues.

On Friday, the Winnipeg native had a goal and two assists in a 5-2 win over the Terriers in Portage.

On Saturday, Bryant finished the week with a goal and an assist and Colby Jaquet played the hero, scoring the winning goal in overtime as the Kings beat Portage 4-3.

At 20-4-0-0, the Kings are first place overall in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, eight points up on the Waywayseecappo Wolverines in the West Division and three up on the Pistons in the overall standings race.

With eight goals and four assists last week, Bryant’s hot hand has moved him into a four-way tie for the league lead with 17 goals and he sits eighth in scoring with 29 points, one behind Jacquet.

Bryant admits he has a tendency to overthink sometimes and it affects him poorly on the ice.

“I just tried to keep it simple and just focus on each shift. And, honestly, it worked out well for me this week,” he said.

Bryant had gone the previous three games without a point. But he was excited the team was still winning.

“But personally, I always want to contribute as much as I can. I was glad to finally rebound at the Showcase,” he said.

Saturday was Dauphin’s sixth game in nine days and fatigue was a factor in the team falling behind 2-0 in the first period. It was the first time since the streak began that Dauphin allowed more than two goals against.

“It’s been a pretty busy week. We haven’t had much time off and we’ve been on the ice a lot. I think a lot of our bodies are a little beat up. The fatigue was there, for sure,” Bryant said.

The team’s skill level and depth, Bryant said, is what allowed the Kings to battle back.

“We’re a really deep team and, as the rest of the league has seen on any given night, anyone can score. Anyone can put it in the net. It’s hard to stop when everyone is firing,” he said.

As confident as they are right now, Bryant said the players know they can’t get too high. They will continue to play tough games against strong opponents as they face Steinbach and the Blues the next two weekends.

“We’re trying not to let it get to our heads too much, because we’ve still got a lot of work to do. But we’re going to enjoy it today and regroup next week,” he said.

Kings head coach and general manager Doug Hedley felt the Kings did not have a good start in Saturday’s game, but were able to overcome the early deficit.

“When you play six games in nine nights, it’s a tough go. You like to think when you go into six games like that, if you’re 4-2, you’re happy. When you have a chance to go 6-0 and get your 20th win of the season, it’s even better,” he said. “We had a little adversity after 20 minutes. Came out and I thought our last 40 minutes was pretty solid.”

At the Showcase, Hedley felt the Kings played their best game of the season against Steinbach.

“We were relentless on the puck. We had control of the neutral zone. They had some opportunities. They’re a good hockey club. They have some good speed. But I just thought that we really handled them well and controlled the neutral zone,” he said.

The Kings started slow against the Blues, falling behind 2-0 after one period, but they got the job done in the end.

“You like to think that you’re going to find a way to make a difference and that was the biggest thing after the first period. Regardless of what’s happened, that calls didn’t go our way, a little adversity, just find a way to be a difference-maker,” Hedley said.

Saturday’s win was the 300th for Hedley as Kings head coach.

“That just means you’ve been around too long,” Hedley joked after the game. “It’s always nice. I’m more thrilled with the guys to get the 20th win for this season and just the way we had to fight back to win it and earn it.”

After a couple of days off to get some rest, the Kings will be back at practice to get ready for the Pistons.

Forward Andrew Andries wanted to get closer to home, so Hedley has been trying to move him, but nothing has worked out yet. He is currently playing with the Stonewall Jets of the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League and will remain in the Kings 50-man protected list and used as an AP if needed.

Forward Matthew Rathbone is out until after Christmas with a shoulder injury.

Kings court: Dauphin’s eight-game winning streak has moved them into sixth place in the Canadian Junior Hockey League rankings, up two spots from last week. Steinbach moved up three spots to number 12, while the Winnipeg Blues are an honourable mention.

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Doug Zywina
REPORTER
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