Riding down a king-sized rocky road

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It’s official, the JDA Kings are mired in what’s called a slump.

The local Jr. ‘B’ hockey outfit dropped its fourth game in a row, this time a 6-2 setback to the Fairview Flyers in North West Junior Hockey League action from the Crosslink Sportsplex on Saturday night.

Coming into the game, the Flyers (1-4-1) were the only team in the league with zero wins from five games. Now they have one win, to match the Kings (1-5-0), but the Flyers have a loser point and now the home side are lounging in a polyester recliner, alone in the basement of the six-team league.

“[There is not] enough compete in our game [right now], it’s too lackadaisical, we have to work harder,” Kings head coach Kyle Chapple said. “In our defensive zone, we’re losing body positions on guys in front of our net and giving them second and third opportunities. We have to up our work ethic and it starts in our own zone.”

Chapple has belief in his troops but do the 22 guys on the roster? Only time will tell, but the season is too short for the losing streak to continue ad infinitum.

“I know we can be better. It’s just a mind set right now where we’re kind of down in the dumps and the only guys who can fix it are in the room and they need to want it more,” Chapple said. “Fairview wanted it and that’s why they won the game.”

While a four-game losing streak can be normal in a 36-game schedule, what is happening during the recent stretch could be somewhat concerning to the coach/general manager.

In the last three games alone, the club has surrendered 25 goals, including an 11-0 thrashing at the happy hands of the Dawson Creek Jr. Canucks last Tuesday night at the home rink in Clairmont.

There isn’t one word of wisdom that could conjure up a slump buster, it’s more complicated than that, the coach said.

“[When we talk about the losing streak], it’s a mixture of things. It starts in practice, we have to be better there and it’s got to roll into the weekend,” Chapple said. “Mentally, we’re not strong and it shows in our game. We get scored on and it spirals out of control. We need certain guys to step up and change it during a hockey. Did we think we were going to come in [on Saturday night] and put up a shutout like nothing? What’s our push back?  Right now, it’s not there.”

The game went wild west by the third period, on and off the ice, or so it seemed.

Cale Fox of the Flyers picked up a check to the head major and a match penalty at 8:01, sending Kings forward Jacob Begin tumbling head first into the boards and, subsequently, writhing on the ice in pain; Kings captain Austin Hrehoruk then picked five minutes and a match penalty for a spearing infraction at 9:48 and Nick Miller received five minutes and a match penalty for a hit from behind at 15:45.

Meanwhile, the Flyers fans started throwing objects from the stands into the Kings bench in protest after the Miller penalty, setting off a minor ruckus in the crowd between the two sets of fans. Cooler heads would gradually prevail in that case.

“It’s frustration but that’s not going to fix anything,” Chapple said. “You have to control your temper. You can’t do something that is going to hurt the team long term with suspensions and things like that. There was a cheap shot on Begin and that wasn’t sitting well with our guys.”

No magic words are going to turn around this super-sized funk but something just might.

Call it the will to win.

“We have to get out there and work on things,” Chapple said. “It’s  not the crew, it’s the mental side of the game and it’s eating us alive. We’re over thinking. It starts in practice.” Chapple said he wants to see the players working hard during the week and getting ready for play by Friday.

Begin and Jeremy Niven scored for the Kings. Will McCreight stopped 20 of 26 shots in the loss.

Eric Dentinger, Zacheri Schlachter, Mattias Jaccobson, Tristyn Corliss, Spencer Bjorkland and Kyle Cairns scored for the visitors. Alex Sawchuk stopped 29 of 31 shots for the victory.

The five-game homestand continues Friday night when the Jr. Canucks come to town. Puck drop is set for 8 p.m. at the Crosslink County Sportsplex.