That’s A Wrap

April 9, 2013

Losing your last game is never how a team wants to end the season but when the final buzzer ticked this past weekend for the Grande Prairie JDA Kings it put an unfortunate spin on an otherwise very successful season. Grande Prairie lost their third game in the Alberta Junior B Provincial tournament to the Cold Lake Ice of the Northeast Alberta Junior Hockey League 6 to 4 but the club certainly went down swinging.

Trailing 5 to 1 heading into the final twenty minutes Grande Prairie rallied to score three straight goals almost instantly around the mid point of the period and started to apply a lot of pressure and nearly scoring on a handful of chances in the final ten minutes of the period.

Those in attendance were left with what arguably could have been one of the most entertaining games of the tournament.

The Season

It’s never how you want to finish but for the Grande Prairie Kings everyone from top to bottom should hold their heads high. The season was full of ups and downs but from the beginning the team knew they had the makings of a Championship team. They set out back in early September with the clubs dryland sessions and training camp and since the drop of the puck on their first game of September 21st set their sights on capturing their first NWJHL championship.

There were speed bumps along the way. Player injuries, management and coaching positions changing and players leaving were just a few of the changes people may (or may not have) seen through the duration of the season. Still, these things seem to happen on a regular basis for almost every junior hockey club and it can be commended to the staff on the job done not only keeping the team competitive but not losing focus on the end goal.

That goal became a reality on March 26th, 2013.

The Playoffs

It’s almost remarkable to think that with the resources and pool to draw from that no team from the Swan City had hoisted the trophy in almost 20 years of existence in the Northwest Junior Hockey League.

The Kings breezed through the first round defeating the Sexsmith Vipers 3 to 0. They faced a confident team in Fort St. John in the second round and even though they won the series 4 games to 1 they certainly didn’t roll over the Huskies. Losing game oen the Kings bounced back winning four straight with two of those wins coming in overtime to lift them to the championship final for the first time in three years.

It was fitting. The two best teams all season long would play for the NWJHL Championship.

The start of the series looked like nothing one would expect. Grande Prairie jumped out to a 3 to 0 series winning game 1 convincingly 5 to 2, game 2 in overtime 4 to 3, and then surviving blowing a 5 to 1 lead in the final twenty minutes by scoring in the final minute to win 6 to 5.

Just when it looked like Grande Prairie was set to hoist the league championship trophy the team felt the wrath of a hungry Peace River team with the Navigators storming back to win game four in Peace River and following it up with a game five win back in Grande Prairie.

The stage was set…all the momentum seemed to be shifting to the Navigators and just when you thought we could be on the verge of seeing a 3 to 0 series comeback the Kings responded. There wasn’t a lot of hiccups along the way but when faced with adversity throughout the season the Kings always bounced back. Early on in the regular season trailing Fort St. John 3 to 0 after twenty minutes Grande Prairie rallied back for 6 straight goals. In December following back to back losses to Peace River and then Beaverlodge the Kings responded by surpassing a team record and recorded 19 straight wins before losing game one to Fort St. John.

Just like they had all season Grande Prairie answered in game 6 of the NWJHL finals with their best game of the season resulting in a 5 to 1 win and their first NWJHL Championship.

Special Thanks

Now that’s everything been said and done for the 2012 – 2013 season Grande Prairie has already begun work on next year hoping to improve on the success of this years campaign.

If you haven’t heard the Kings are the proud hosts of the 2013 – 2014 Investor Groups Alberta Junior B Provincials and work is well underway to make it a successful one.

While the season may be over on the ice the Kings are just beginning and a lot of exciting news is expected over the course of the next few days and weeks.

Thanks to all of our fans and followers throughout the 2012 – 2013 season, we are proud to try and bring you an enjoyable product both on and off the ice and we hope you enjoyed joining us on this journey.

To everyone involved in covering stories on this team throughout the Grande Prairie media we owe you a huge thank you! We’ve spent countless hours trying to change the face of Junior B hockey in Grande Prairie and you all have helped us do that more then we could possibly imagine.

To all the Executives, parents and volunteers throughout the regular season, playoffs, provincials and countless fundraisers we owe you more thanks then we can possibly give out. Your hard work and dedication to the Grande Prairie JDA Kings is one of the reasons this team has been able to take the next step and we hope you enjoyed our company as much as we enjoyed yours.

To all of our sponsors…we wouldn’t be the same team without you. Your donations are the biggest reason we are able to pay for ice, road trips, equipment and more. We hope to keep building and strengthening our relationships over the course of the following years. Thanks for all the amazing support!

To Jarvis and the crew at JDA Oilfield Hauling…we wouldn’t have a team without you. As simple as that. Your unbelievable generosity to the hockey club has kept us going and words can’t describe just how much it means to everyone involved. Thank you again for everything you’ve done these past two years to help us reach our (first) goal.

Special thanks to the coaching staff, training staff, our bus driver and all the players involved. We all remember the message we got from the team playing in Slave Lake who’s bus timed out and you all were nice enough to drive them to their hotel…that’s just one of many highlights throughout the season where we were constantly reminded on the excellent job you all did on and off the ice all while upholding the highest of class.

Finally to the four 21 year old players, Trudes, Bowks, Yee, and Pauly thanks for all your hard work and dedication to the Grande Prairie JDA Kings. Ending your junior hockey career is just the beginning on so much more and we hope that this past years experience with this hockey club will be something you will never forget and we most certainly look forward to you all being a part of this team in the future regardless.

We look forward to seeing you all soon!

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