Kings Back on Home Ice in Playoffs Tuesday – Braeden Jones DHT
It’s a classic hockey narrative – with the series tied at two games a piece, the hometown boys face visiting rivals in a fifth and pivotal game in their own barn.
A loss would put them behind the eight ball and heading back into an unfriendly rink on the brink of elimination.
A win would create a cushion – albeit a small one – and allow the Kings to either put it away on the road with momentum or bring it home for game seven.
The County of Grande Prairie JDA Kings have been trading games with the Fairview Flyers all season, and the playoffs have been no different.
When they met in the regular season, three of five games went into overtime or a shootout.
To open the North West Junior Hockey League (NWJHL) semi-finals, each team grabbed a win at the Crosslink County Sportsplex.
Both games were decided by one goal.
The Flyers took game one 2-1, the King’s took game two 4-3 in overtime.
In Fairview, the teams were blow-for-blow again.
The Flyers won game three handily in a decisive 6-1 rout of a scrambling King’s team.
But the King’s kept afloat following that salvo, and with a stronger effort from top line-stalwarts and a change in the crease responded with a 5-3 win of their own.
Team captain and leading scorer Corey Wamsteeker scored twice in the win, and Head coach Kyle Chapple tapped goaltender Tallon Kramer for his first start since February.
Chapple said the series to date has been classic playoff hockey.
“It’s been a good series back and forth… the momentum keeps changing, it’s been a battle,” he said.
“Basically we’ve got a best of three situation here now, with home ice advantage. It all starts (tomorrow night, Tuesday night).”
Chapple said playing in Fairview was “ a zoo.” He’s hoping the hometown crowd shows up in droves to get his team revved up.
“Coming back here, we want it nice and loud. We want as many people cheering us on as possible. When you get that support in a tight playoff series, it only benefits you,” he said. “Our fans have been great all year, hopefully we get a really good crowd… We have to focus on getting that win at home and taking advantage of the home ice.”
Chapple said he hasn’t selected a starting goaltender yet, but mentioned having the skilled athletes in the crease is a high quality problem he doesn’t mind having.
“Our guys know whoever is in net, we’ve got good goaltending,” he said.
Gametime is 8 p.m. at the Crosslink County Sportsplex.
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