Kings close the gap – Logan Clow DHT
The County of Grande Prairie JDA Kings have closed the gap on first place in the North West Junior Hockey.
Although the top-ranked North Peace Navigators (14-2-0-1) are on a five-game win streak and hold top spot, the Kings (13-2-0-1) have won their last three games and sit two points back of Peace River.
The Kings, who have outscored their opponents 23-4 on their current streak, host the Beaverlodge Blades on Thursday and Fort St. John Huskies on Saturday at the Crosslink County of Grande Prairie Sportsplex at 8 p.m.
“Obviously, we have to take advantage of the games we play at home and make it a tough place for other teams to play. Coming off a good week last week with three wins, we want to keep going and moving in the right direction moving into the Christmas break,” said Kyle Chapple, head coach of the Kings.
With the Navs only playing one game this weekend – Saturday against the Dawson Creek Jr. Canucks – the Kings have an opportunity to tie, or move ahead in the standings – dependant on how the Navs fare.
“We obviously want to catch them and get into first place. Every two points means everything to us and you got to take it one game at a time and make sure you’re focused and not looking ahead at games down the road,” noted Chapple.
The Blades, under Al Greber, are 1-16-0-1 this season and are coming off a 9-1 loss to Fort St. John on Dec. 6.
The Kings have outscored the Blades 22-7 through two meetings this season.
“I think they’re a team that is trying to define what their identity maybe is, what direction they’re trying to go in… but that doesn’t mean they can’t come in and play a good, strong hockey game,” said Chapple.
The Kings are coming off a 10-0 win against Sexsmith (Dec. 4); 3-1 victory over Dawson Creek (Dec. 6) and a 10-3 victory over the Vipers on Dec. 7.
Kings captain Corey Wamsteeker has taken over the NWJHL scoring race with four goals and four assists in his last three games, for a season total of 18 goals and 21 assists.
“It seems like when we have a chance to score lately, it’s been going in,” said Chapple, of the team’s win streak.
“(Defence) is still something we have to talk about. There’s some things that always need to be fixed in the defensive zone, but as long as long as we’re going in the right direction and going towards the opposition’s end, that’s one thing we want to key on because we know when we’re in the offensive zone, we can be a pretty strong team…”
Chapple said Kings goaltender Andy Gilker, who is 8-3 with the team and sports a 2.64 GAA, will start against the Blades.
JDA County Kings vs Dawson Creek Jr. Canucks
JDA County Kings vs Fairview Flyers
JDA County Kings vs Sexsmith Vipers