JDA Kings ready for three in three – DHT
Less than a week after losing 4-2 to the Fort St. John Huskies, the County of Grande Prairie JDA Kings will see their schedule pick up pace this week with three games in three nights.
The Kings (18-4-0-1), trailing the top-ranked North Peace Navigators (20-2-0-1) by four points, host the Sexsmith Vipers (5-18) Thursday at the Crosslink County Sportsplex, followed by a road game against the Beaverlodge Blades (1-22) on Friday, before returning to the Sportsplex on Saturday to host the Fairview Flyers (15-7-0-1). Fairview defeated the Kings 9-2 on Jan. 3 and trail Grande Prairie by six points.
“These games are important. Any game down the stretch here is important for us,” said Kyle Chapple, head coach of the Kings.
“The things that we have to do moving forward to be better, again, is putting in a full 60-minute effort and being ready right off the get-go and then not be flat in the first period. That’s something we’ve addressed and that’s something we expect to be better.”
He said a particular area of the team’s game that needs to be better is their execution on the powerplay. In the last four games, the Kings are 4-29 with the man advantage.
“I think one thing is we’re taking bad shots and we’re not taking the time to set up. It’s an area of our game where we do have some young guys that are learning and trying to get better all the time there,” noted Chapple.
The team has, however, had success on the penalty kill all season, especially of late. The team has killed off 27 of their last 29 penalties through four games.
“We said right from the get-go that if you want to have a good penalty kill, you have to outwork the powerplay and I think we’ve done a good job of that,” said Chapple.
“(They’ve) done a good job at getting in the shooting lanes, being aggressive and strong in front of our net. On top of that, you’re best penalty killer has to be your goalie and Andy (Gilker) has done a great job for us there, as well as Cam (Smith). The key has been our hard work.”
Chapple said he was also impressed with the debut of Hammond Jones in their loss to the Huskies. Jones was added to the Kings on Jan. 10 at the trade deadline along with forward Adam Hodge, who is completing school in Edmonton and has yet to suit up for the Kings.
With six games remaining in the regular season for the Kings, including two against the Navigators – Jan. 31 and Feb. 8 – Chapple noted that he’s confident the squad has a good chance to clinch top spot and earn a first round bye in the post-season.
“You’re never out of it,” said Chapple.
“Whether we get first or we get second – we definitely want to get first and get that first round bye and home ice advantage throughout the playoffs – we can only dictate what we can do and that’s to win every game from here on out.”
“It’s going to be tough. We’re going to need some help (from other teams) and we’re obviously going to need to win those games against Peace River when we play them.”
Kings home games start at 8 p.m.
North Peace Navigators vs JDA County Kings
JDA County Kings vs Fort St. John Huskies
JDA County Kings vs Fairview Flyers