Kings take undefeated record on the road – Logan Clow, Grande Prairie Daily Herald-Tribune
The County of Grande Prairie JDA Kings (2-0) will look to continue their undefeated season this weekend when they travel to face the North Peace Navigators on Friday and the Fairview Flyers on Saturday.
Kyle Chapple, head coach of the JDA Kings, said the road trip against two top teams in the North West Junior Hockey League is a good test for the young squad, especially early in the season.
“It’s great. We’re actually really looking forward to it. It’s going to give us an idea on where we stand right now and give us an idea on things we need to work on,” said Chapple.
“To play two good teams back-to-back is going to be fun and I think the boys are looking forward to the challenge,” continued Chapple. “It’s definitely going to be a good learning experience for the new guys and the rookies to see how well you have to play to get points off these teams. If you want to be the best, you have to beat (the top) teams.”
Chapple said he was uncertain which of his three goalies would start in Peace River. The team currently has goaltenders Andy Gilker, Cam Smith and Dylan White.
Gilker, who started the season with the Grande Prairie Storm, is 2-0 with the Kings and ranked fourth in the league with a 2.42 goals against average.
“The schedule and the way (the season) started, it’s been tough to try and work out the goaltending situation where you kind of what to see every guy play early in the season,” said Chapple.
“And, Andy has made it pretty tough to take him out of the net after the way he’s played.”
North Peace Navigators
It’s the first meeting between the JDA Kings and Navigators since April 5, when the JDA Kings defeated the Navigators 6-2 in the Junior B provincial semi final, at the Crosslink County Sportsplex.
Last season, the JDA Kings won three of their five regular season meetings and outscored the Navigators 31-22. However, in the NWJHL finals, the Navigators defeated the JDA Kings four games to one to take the league title.
“I don’t know if (a victory) would be revenge (on them) with so many new players in the line-up that weren’t in the line-up last year,” said Chapple.
“Anytime we play Peace River, it’s a good battle and usually it’s an exciting hockey game. I think the boys know the history there.”
This season, the Peace River squad is 3-1 and enter Friday’s game coming off an 11-0 home win against the Sexsmith Vipers on Oct. 11.
“They’ve had their fair share of turnover in players last year and they’re probably in the same boat as us trying to figure out what they have as a team this year. I know they’re probably looking forward to a good battle to see where they stand,” added Chapple.
“I know they’ll be a good challenge. It’s always tough playing in Peace River. It’s never an easy game when you play in their barn and there’s still some good players there from last year.”
It’s the second meeting of the season between the Flyers and JDA Kings. On Sept 27, the JDA Kings defeated the Flyers 5-3 in their season home opener.
The Flyers come soaring into the Fairview Fairplex as the top team in the league, with their 4-1 record.
“I’m expecting a better game out of (the Flyers). They gave us a good run in our home opener, but things are always tougher on home ice and in Fairview, that’s a tough place to play and they tend to play really well on home ice,” said Chapple.
“It’s going to be a tough game, but I don’t think it’s anything our team can’t handle if we come out and play the right way.”
The Flyers, who re-joined the NWJHL in 2012, made a surprise move earlier this week by dismissing head coach Neil McGill – former head coach of the Sexsmith Vipers – and assistant coach Bob Schmidt.
Schmidt took to the team’s Facebook page to make the announcement on Oct. 15.
“The Board of Directors expressed concern in the direction that head coach, Neil MaGill, and myself were leading the team so we’ve been relieved of our duties,” wrote Schmidt.
Friday, the Flyers will travel to take on the Fort St. John Huskies before returning home for Saturday’s meeting against the Kings.
The Flyers are the top scoring team in the league with 41 goals and have five players leading the league in scoring. Forward Doug Morris, of Camrose, tops the list with 14 goals and 17 assists, followed by teammate Ben Moffatt with one goal and nine assists.
“I think a good start is going to be a key to come out and try and get momentum early in the game and get your legs under you and get into it, instead of a slow start and getting behind the eight-ball,” said Chapple.
“It’s going to be a team effort. They’re four lines deep and it’s not just shutting down one line or one guy, it’s their entire team and you have to do it as a (team).”
JDA County Kings vs Fort St. John Huskies
JDA County Kings vs North Peace Navigators