By Tyler Lowey, Times Reporter
It might sound odd, but scoring hat tricks might have jumped the shark for the Strathmore Wheatland Kings.
The Kings picked up their fourth straight win Nov. 3 at the Bob Snodgrass Recreation Complex, when they downed the 7-6-2 High River Flyers 8-3.
It also marked the fifth straight game where someone on the Kings recorded a hat trick.
“Five straight games with a hat trick is pretty cool, but more importantly it means we’re in good position for a win,” said Kings alternate captain Cole Busslinger. “Whether it’s one guy scoring three goals, or three guys scoring one goal, all that matters is that pucks are going in,”
Agitator Matt Thomson was the latest King to pull the feat. It was actually his second hat trick of the streak. In the five games, Zach Meadows, George Montour and Jaks Fairs have also recorded hat tricks.
“I told Shadoe (Stoodley) and Braden (Desmet) that I couldn’t believe that this streak was still going,” said Kings Assistant Coach Keenan Desmet. “It’s great to see guys getting rewarded, but I’m more impressed that, for the most part, it has come from a new guy each night. It just goes to show how much depth up front we have on this team.”
The Kings (7-4-1) only led the Flyers 3-2 entering the third, when they piled on five more goals, two of which came from Thomson, who now has 10 this season.
Austin Holmes and Hayden Vander Ploeg netted solo efforts to give them goals in back-to-back games, while Mitchell Broughton netted his first goal as a King in the second period. Bradley Tingey and Busslinger supplied goals late in the third period to finish off the Flyers.
Tingey’s three-point performance was a welcome sight for the 20-year-old Hussar product. He was held pointless in his first 10 games of the season.
“I’m not going to lie, it was frustrating at times, but the coaching staff kept telling me to stay with it and keep working, that it would pay off,” said Tingey. “It feels good to get a couple points finally.”
The lopsided win also marks the third time in the Kings past four games that they have hit the eight-goal plateau.
“The goals are coming because we are finally taking care of the defensive zone first. Last year we got outshot consistently,” said Desmet. “It was a weak spot in our game so we worked on it. If we get the puck back sooner on defence, then we can get out and roll with it. If we can control our defensive zone, then with the depth we have up front we shouldn’t have any problem beating any team in this league.”
And it’s not like the Flyers were a bottom feeder pushover, like the three teams they previously beat, which occupy the bottom three spots in the Northern division.
High River was flying high coming off back-to-back convincing wins over the Airdrie Techmation Thunder (5-2) and a 4-1 victory over the Red Deer Vipers in the final weekend of October.
Needing to stop the momentum was Indiana Kelly, who made 20 saves — the fewest required for any win this season.
Kelly is rounding into form after an early blip this season, where he allowed 21 goals over four games. In his last three starts, all wins, he has only allowed seven goals.
“Indiana is constantly working to get better,” added Busslinger. “Nobody works harder than him. We never think he is struggling or anything like that. There have been times when we’ve hung him out to dry, but that’s on us. We need to play better in front of him, but we still have all the confidence in the world in him when he’s in net.”
The streak of impressive play was put to the test Nov. 7, when the Kings hosted the division-leading Okotoks Bisons (9-4-1) in their final midweek game of the season at the Strathmore Family Centre. After the atom tournament clears out, the Kings will also be at home Nov. 12 to host the Mountainview Colts (7-4-2) at 4:30 p.m.