JDA Kings kick off pre-season – Logan Clow DHT
Competition for roster spots are expected to intensify for the County of Grande Prairie JDA Kings this week with three pre-season exhibition games.
Thursday, the Kings host the Fairview Flyers at 8:30 p.m. at the Crosslink County Sportsplex.
The team then travels to play the North Peace Navigators on Saturday afternoon and then plays the Sexsmith Vipers in Sexsmith on Sunday at 2 p.m.
“It’s going to give a chance for us to see the guys that are new this year and obviously see the guys we had last year and where they sit as of right now. We’re going to give everyone an opportunity to play over the next three games, starting tomorrow night, and it gives us a chance to take a look at everybody and [will help us] make our final [roster] decision,” said Kyle Chapple, head coach of the Kings.
“You want to see kids go out and compete. I think that’s what you want to see early in the season. You’re not expecting them to go out and do anything spectacular, but as long as their compete level is there and they’re working hard and doing the things we’ve worked on early in the season… those are the things we’re looking for. ”
Thursday’s game marks the first meeting between the Kings and Flyers since the 2014-2015 NWJHL playoffs.
Last season, the Kings were ousted by the Flyers in six games. The Flyers were then swept in four games in the NWJHL finals by the North Peace Navigators.
“The outcome isn’t so much what I’m worried about. It’s just going out there and making progress and getting better so that when game one comes of the regular season, we’re ready to go,” said Chapple.
“There’s going to be mistakes [in the pre-season], but it’s how much you compete the rest of the game.”
Tough roster decisions ahead, says Chapple
Chapple said the team will carry roughly 25 players for their three exhibition games.
He said the most competitive battle has been in the crease with four goalies, including returnee Cam Smith.
Another intriguing competition has been team defence. Chapple noted the team’s blueline will be young this season without notables such as Morgan Eaton,Scott Nordstrom and Kyle Lipinski
“We’re going to be young [on defence], but we’ve had a few guys come in and do a real good job for us so far. I’m not too worried about it, but again, it’s going to be some tough decisions…”
An area he isn’t worried about is team offence. A majority of their returnees are forwards.
“We’re really happy with how things look up front. We shouldn’t struggle to score goals,” he said.
JDA County Kings vs Fort St. John Huskies
JDA County Kings vs North Peace Navigators