Kings Strike First in NWJHL Finals
All the hype and build up didnt seem to phase the Grande Prairie JDA Kings Thursday night as the team kept on rolling with an impressive 5 to 2 win over the North Peace Navigators in the NWJHL Championship.
It’s the first time in three years a Junior B team from Grande Prairie has played for the championship and Thursday nights win marked the first ever by a GP team in the final round. Hard to believe. But a win is just a win and the JDA Kings know full well it isn’t a race to one, it’s a race to four.
Thursday nights first period flew by as both teams looked sharp in the early going. A few chances were had by each but the Kings managed to carry a lot of the play in the first period outshooting Peace River by a 16 to 8 margin. The Navigators however would strike first when rookie Dustin Long would beat Kings netminder Sky Buller upstairs with just 2 minutes to go in the first. Scoring late it looked as though they would carry that lead into the intermission until Kings captain Devin Bell would bang one home under a minute later.
The second period was a different story.
Grande Prairie exploded for four goals in the middle frame and nearly had a couple others. Bell got his second and opened the second period scoring at 3:50, Sheldon McArthur made it 3 to 1 at 5:10. Soon after Grande Prairie found themselves on the first of two powerplays on the night and with just a few seconds remaining Lyndin Lewis would push the lead to 4 to 1 squeezing a shot through Navs starting netminder Patrick Earle. Two minutes after that affiliate Braden Fuller would score on a gritty second effort play to make it 5 to 1 and essentially end Earle’s night. Peace River would add one late in the second to make it 5 to 2 but that would be as close as they could get.
Both clubs will now have a day of rest between the chaotic weather taking place across the Peace Country. Game two takes place Saturday night again in Grande Prairie before the series shifts back to Peace River next week.
Once more we can’t say it enough but The Kings would like to say special thanks to Mayor Bill Given who helped both clubs kick off the championship round Thursday night. We hope everyone enjoyed opening night and we look forward to seeing you all this Saturday at the Coca Cola Centre.
Special thanks to MT Actions who has been snapping some great shots all playoffs for the Kings, check out the latest below
For a full statistical recap of Thursday nights opening game, click here
JDA County Kings vs Dawson Creek Jr. Canucks
JDA County Kings vs Fairview Flyers
JDA County Kings vs Sexsmith Vipers