County of Grande Prairie Kings in a time crunch this weekend

Grande Prairie Kings goaltender Cameron Beson makes a poke check during a North West Hockey League game against the Dawson Creek Jr. Canucks.The club will kick off week three of the regular season with a Saturday night game in Fort St. John against the Huskies. Puck drop is set for 9 p.m. The Kings will host the Fairview Flyers at the Crosslink County Sportsplex on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. Gordon Anderson / Daily Herald Tribune

Share Adjust Comment Print

The Grande Prairie Kings kick another week of the North West Junior Hockey League (NWJHL) action when they take on the Fort St. John Huskies on Saturday night in B.C.

Game time is set for 9 p.m.

The Kings opened the NWJHL season with a 4-1 loss to the Huskies and Head Coach Kyle Chapple mentioned it wasn’t a great night for the club on Sept. 20. The Huskies are third in the league, one point behind the Kings. The locals have five points from four games played.

“It’s a chance to redeem ourselves after the stinker in our first game,” Chapple said. “It’s not an easy place to play, they get good crowds up there and it’s going to be good test for us. They’re a skilled team that plays quick and comes at you. So, we have to be play fast and move our feet. We were doing things in practice (this week) where we want to see quick puck movement and managing the puck. They’re not a small team. They’re always going to compete hard. I’m not too worried about our team offensively, we have to work hard and compete. If we do that, we’ll give ourselves a good chance to win.”

Managing time

It will be a quick turnaround for the Kings as they host the Fairview Flyers on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. The head coach is going to be tight with ice time.

“This weekend is going to be one of those major test in that category,” Chapple said of the minutes played.
“It’s a (late) start on Saturday and (we’re) not home until two in the morning. We have to utilize the whole bench and every will get an opportunity to play. There is (going to be) some minute managing. A lot of it comes down to special teams. Some weekends it’s the whole game. When you have low (special teams) minutes, you have a lot more five-on-five action and you can roll the bench a bit more. That’s a big key, staying out of the box.”

Points galore

Coming into the season, Chapple was wondering who the team was going to get scoring from. Through four games, the club has scored 17 goals. And while that might be a surprise to Chapple, the coach is also surprised—in a good way—that the Kings have the top-three point producers in the league heading into Friday night’s slate of games.

Blake Gillingham leads the NWJHL with eight points in four games, with Justin Rudyk and Tanner Davy sitting at seven points each.Currently, Chapple has the trio playing on a line together. Last weekend, they picked up 13 points in wins over the Sexsmith Vipers and the North Peace Navigators.

“I know those guys are talented hockey players, the biggest thing was finding the chemistry to make it work,” Chapple said. “Early on, we’ve tried different line combinations quite a bit and we put them together this past weekend and they really took off, played well together. I didn’t know they were going to be the guys to click together but they did.

“It’s a goods mixture of everything. A guy like Gillingham brings some size to the line and with Davy it’s speed and skill, his first three strides are pretty quick and he can create space. Rudyk, he’s got the ability, he’s got a really good shot, can play a physical style but does a good job on that line being in the right spot to help create turnovers and get the puck back towards the offensive zone.”

Fundraiser

The Kings will host a fundraiser on Nov. 23 at the Crown and Anchor pub in Grande Prairie. Tickets are $25 and will be available at the door when the club plays the Flyers on Sunday afternoon. Proceeds go to the club for things such as travel costs, ice costs and purchasing new equipment. Chapple figures it costs around $40,000 a year for ice rental. All members of the Kings organization, including coaches and players, will be selling tickets.

Comments