Kings Have Agenda Set for Playoff Run in ’16 – Fred Rinne DHT
For head coach and GM Kyle Chapple and his County of Grande Prairie JDA Kings, the hockey gods have set the season table and now it’s time to go looking for dessert.
Thanks to firebrand starts by both the defending champion North Peace Navigators and finalists Fairview Flyers, it’s been a chase after the mathematically plausible, but realistically not possible.
The good news is, coming off of five straight wins heading into the Christmas break, the locals are ensconced in third and odds would suggest that is where they will remain, barring the unforeseen.
That means this next two months of hockey will allow Chapple and the club to sharpen the dull, accentuate the positives, get healthy and prepare for a playoff run they hope will bear fruit.
“Yeah, Fairview and Peace River got off to great starts… kind of left us battling for the rest. it’s still possible, but we have to focus on what we need to do better and get ready for the playoffs – no bad habits, good work ethic stay in skating shape,” said Chapple.
Part of that is shoring up the lineup and getting healthy. Having been hit by injuries at times throughout the campaign, the break has allowed some of the battered charges to get back to ready stage.
“Well, January 10 is that deadline we all deal with and we do have the ability to add some players if need be, but we are happy with our club right now, we did a lot of homework at the December 10 deadline, releasing some players and adding some as well,” said Chapple, referring to 20-year-old d-man Taylor Lileikis, a big blueline presence who captained the Calgary Mustangs in the AJHL. Also, returning, another 20-year-old, Winnipeg winger Jordan Reid-Whyte who has been out of the lineup since suffering a leg injury against Dawson Creek in a game in Chetwynd.
The other key re-addition was 20-year-old netminder Andy Gilker who returned to the fold from Quebec. The team will keep all three goalies, with Gilker carrying the mail, while understudies Dalyn Haire and Jeremi Blais continue to be the foundation for the future.
Chapple and his crew have the bar set high come Saturday when the season resumes at the County Sportsplex, and first-place Fairview comes to town.
Grande Prairie handed the Flyers their worst defeat of the season, a 4-1 win, back in December.
“They’ll be looking for redemption I am sure, but we wanted some tough games coming back off the break to keep us sharp. Should be good,” said Chapple
Game time is 8 p.m.
JDA County Kings vs Dawson Creek Jr. Canucks
JDA County Kings vs Fairview Flyers
JDA County Kings vs Sexsmith Vipers