By Tyler Lowey, Times Reporter
As the Strathmore Wheatland Kings losing streak hit five games, the message post game remained relatively the same: stick to the game plan and get pucks on net.
Alternate captain Brenden Moore was doing his part in getting pucks on net. In one power play in the second period, Moore launched five shots towards Blackfalds Wranglers netminder Lane Brann, directing anything he could on net, hoping to get a lucky bounce and have one fall.
That wouldn’t be the case.
During the Kings’ losing skid, the third periods were painful, having been outscored 9-1 over that stretch in the final frame.
The Kings trailed 1-0 entering the final frame Dec. 2 at the Strathmore Family Centre, when they fell victim to another third-period let down.
Fifty-one seconds into the final frame, Moore got called for a slashing penalty, sending the Heritage Junior Hockey League’s second-worst road power play unit to work.
Shawn Rowe teed up a point shot from Ryan Chambers and Dylan Scheunert one minute into Moore’s minor, giving the Wranglers (13-6-0) the lead for good.
“We’re getting a little frustrated on the bench. The puck won’t be going our way, so we get frustrated and miss our chances on the ice when we need to be focused and bear down,” said Kings captain Keenan Ogle.
Rowe’s seventh of the season combined with Landon Siegle’s marker earlier and McKoy Kahlert sneaking one past Indiana Kelly stretched the Wranglers lead to 3-0 just four minutes into the third period.
“I thought we played a pretty solid game. The first two periods were sound, but they got a couple quick ones in the third and that took the wind out of our sails,” said Kings Assistant Coach Keenan Desmet. “We couldn’t rebound from that second one going in.”
Kelly bounced back nicely from allowing five goals in his previous start Nov. 26 at home against the High River Flyers, yielding three goals on 35 shots.
The problem wasn’t in net; it was in the final 20 minutes, in what is turning into a broken record.
“We’ve tried almost everything under the sun to try and turn this ship around. We need to find something real quick,” said Ogle.
One thing that did go the Kings (9-8-2) way in the third and has been their rock all season has been the play of second-year winger George Montour.
The Maskwacis product hasn’t slowed down one tick since his eight points in five games performance to start the season.
Like he has so often this season, Montour was parked in front of the net and only needed to tap in a pass from Austin Holmes and Chayse Hnatowich with 1:21 remaining on the clock.
The shutout-breaking goal was his 14th on the season, as he is the only King in double figures for goals and leads the team with 24 points.
“George is a puck magnet. If he ever loses the puck, his second effort to get it back is amazing,” said Desmet. “He doesn’t score the most beautiful goals, but he’s a magnet at the front of the net and is at the right place at the right time. We need a couple more guys to do what he does.”
The latest loss was the only game of the weekend for the Kings. A lighter workload on the weekend could provide a chance for the team to clear their head with a pair of home games on tap this weekend.
First, the Kings will host the Cochrane Generals (12-8-1) Dec. 9 at the Family Centre (8 p.m.). The following night, the Kings will take on the Three Hills Thrashers (0-14-0) at home. Puck drop is slated for 5 p.m.