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Kings Enter Break On Winning Note

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The Dauphin Kings enter the Christmas break having won three of their last four Manitoba Junior Hockey League contests.

The Kings split a home-and-home with the Selkirk Steelers over the weekend, dropping a 5-2 decision on Friday in Selkirk, before rebounding with a dominating 7-3 win on home ice, Saturday.

Kings head coach and general manager Doug Hedley said the Steelers were well-prepared and ready to face the Kings on Friday.

“They came at us hard. They were ready,” he said, adding it did not help when office manager Darnell Duff posted on social media the Kings could enter the break with a record of 24-6-0-0 by playing Selkirk twice.

“You never want to put bulletin board material up. You just play. We worked hard. We don’t have a lot of high-end scoring guys. We have four lines that work hard and a backend that’s really good. And our goaltending is solid. So it’s been a team effort,” he said.

Hedley said the Steelers played as well against the Kings as any team this season. And, while he liked the team’s energy on Saturday, he said they are ready for a break.

“Tuesday, Wednesday Thursday practices, you could tell the mindset wasn’t here. The focus wasn’t here. They were all thinking about getting home and getting a good break,” he said. “We’ve been going with three workouts a week. They workout nine o’clock, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. And we practice four times a week and have two games. We’re ready for a break, there’s no doubt about it. We’ll come back refreshed.”

Before Saturday’s game, Hedley told his players they earned everything they have achieved this season.

“Working as hard as we have, we’ve earned it. We haven’t been given anything. We had to go and take it. And we’ve been as good on the road as we’ve been at home,” he said. “Sure we’ve had some times when we’ve had a few lows. But they didn’t last long. We rebounded real well. And tonight was another example of us rebounding after a tough loss last night.”

Saturday’s game was a chippy affair with three fights. Hedley said Selkirk did a lot of talking in Friday’s game, which Dauphin’s players took personally.

“We were ready tonight. It’s our ice, our house and we’ve got to protect it,” he said, adding the Kings penalty kill did an outstanding job in killing off two five-on-three situations.

When you lose three players like that, it can make managing the bench a bit difficult. In Saturday’s game, after Hayden Lacquette was tossed, the remaining five defencemen simply rotated.

It was the same when center Ben Hackl was ejected for fighting. The remaining three centermen were rotated through the four lines.

“But then (Slade) Stanick got hurt. And then (Owen) Wareham got hurt. And then Harry (Jayden Harris) fought and all of a sudden we’re trying to scramble,” Hedley said. “(Luke) Morris ended up playing center a little bit. But it was okay. It was a little bit scary when they made it 5-3. But we had so many chances to put the game away and didn’t. Things like that usually catch up to you. But it was a good effort. It was a good way to enter the break.”

Hedley hopes the players come back refreshed and ready to make a run in the new year.

“We’re hoping Christmas is good for us and we get a couple off our wish list. We’re hoping to add a little bit of offence if we can and we can take a good run,” he said.

The players will return by Jan. 2, with practice scheduled for Jan. 3.

The first game after Christmas will be, Jan. 7 when the Kings host the Winkler Flyers at 7:30 p.m.

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Doug Zywina
REPORTER
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