The River Kings beat Kitimat 7-3 last Friday, and coach Rob Findlay says it was clean and smart playing that earned them the win.
“It started out back and forth,” Findlay said.
“It was a pretty even game in the first period. Then Kitimat started to get a few more penalties than us. We played pretty clean. The guys are really doing well with trying to stay out of the penalty box and just playing hockey.”
Findlay added the goal differential might have been greater but goalie Patrick Leal was a bit hindered by the flu.
“That slowed him down a bit at the beginning there, a couple goals went in, but he played really well despite being sick,” Findlay said.
The first period ended 3-2 for the Kings, with two goals scored by Austin Legros and one by Tristan Murray. Chapen Leblond and Jarret Harrison each scored one in the second, ending that period 5-2, and Ben Reinbolt and team captain Steve Cullis scored in the third.
Findlay said that after the first period, the Kings stepped up and dominated.
“We put a pretty heavy forecheck on them and we had the puck in their end for a good part of the second and third period,” Findlay said. “We’ve been practising our forecheck really hard… but we looked after our defensive end really well. We got the puck out right away and started moving it down to their end to put the pressure on them.”
Findlay said he was not sure what to expect from the Kitimat team and that the Demons did not play as strongly as he expected.
Halfway through the third, the Demons got into bad penalty trouble, with a player trying to start a fight and earning a game misconduct. The Demons got another penalty at the same time, giving the Kings a five-on-three power play.
Cullis said Kitimat has always been a strong team and seemed similar to previous years, but he felt the Kings outplayed them throughout most of the game.
“For a Terrace-Kitimat game, I thought it was fairly tame, compared to some of the games we had against them in the past.”
Cullis said he felt everybody on the Kings played well – “it wasn’t just a few guys.”
That is the strength of the Kings this year – a roster of strong and talented players.
“You have no weak links on the ice at any point in time… There is a lot of young guys that are pretty quick and smart,” Cullis said.
Findlay says the Kings have had a few veterans return to the team, and they have 24 players and a full lineup, with a few players in and out of camp and a few returning soon from school.
“Everybody is playing well – good team hockey – and not getting themselves in penalty trouble is making us look like a pretty disciplined hardworking team,” Findlay said.
The Friday win gives the Kings a four win, two loss record. It was their third win in a row after beating Lac La Hache 7-3 on Nov. 8, and shutting out Prince Rupert 5-0 on Oct. 24.
The Kings are lined up for three away games this month and on Saturday they face the Steelheads in Smithers.
Cullis says the Kings have won and lost one against the Steelheads so far and they are near the top ranked team in the league,
“It seems like it is always really tough to win on their rink for some reason. We didn’t win there at all last year and we lost our first one there this year, so we are hoping to change that this weekend,” he said,
Findlay says he can not wait to play in Smithers on Saturday.
“If we keep playing like we are, and everybody keeps just playing hockey and not getting into penalty trouble, I think we’ll do fine. It will be a tough game against Smithers… [but] we have got a good group that is ready to go. I’m expecting a win,” he said.
The next home game for the Kings is Dec. 4 against the Prince Rupert Rampage.