Refreshed Kings win 2018 opener

By Tyler Lowey, Times Reporter

The third periods have not treated the Strathmore Wheatland Kings well this season. At times, they have been a complete nightmare.
Returning from the holiday break, the Kings led 3-2 midway through the third period on the road, when the Coaldale Copperheads scored the game-tying goal while short-handed.
Two weeks ago, Galvin Burn’s eighth goal of the season at the 13:34 mark would have been demoralizing.
The refreshed Kings regrouped and battled back to pick up the 4-3 win in overtime Jan. 6 at Coaldale Arena.
“Not one guy had their heads down,” said Brad Tingey. “In fact, it actually picked us up a bit. We were having a quiet third, we were probably just trying to hold them off. That goal got us going and made us realize that we had to battle if we wanted those two points.”
A few shifts later, the Kings (11-12-2) almost put the game on ice, when rookie forward Garret Vander Ploeg was sent on a breakaway, but couldn’t finish.
“The bench reacted very well to (the short-handed goal) They didn’t lose focus once and stayed focused for the remainder of the game,” said Kings Head Coach Shadoe Stoodley.
In the extra frame, Tingey won an offensive draw back to alternate captain Hayden Vander Ploeg. The Southern Division All Star teed up a point blast, but his shot was blocked in front by a member of the Copperheads (15-9-2). Crashing the net, the puck landed on Tingey’s blade.
“I didn’t even look at the net. I just put my head down and fired it on net,” said Tingey. “I didn’t even realize that the goalie was on the ground trying to stop Hayden’s initial shot.”
Instantly, the woes of December were long forgotten.
“The locker room was fun again after the game, obviously. That was one of our better games all year and close to a full 60 minutes of effort,” said Stoodley, even though the game required 63:29 for completion.
Both Tingey and Stoodley stated that the team looked refreshed following their two-week break over the holidays, and that the team as a whole hit the reset button.
“We had two great practices and we looked great. I’m sure the break had something to do with that,” said Stoodley.
Third-year forward Jaks Faris scored his first of two on the evening in the first from Ethan Allen. His second came midway through the middle frame on the power play from the Kings other all-star representative Chayse Hnatowich and their all-star snub George Montour.
Former Copperhead Austin Holmes stung his former team 2:40 into the second period for his seventh of the season.
The Kings still allowed a high volume of shots, but leaned on Indiana Kelly for 36 saves to get the team back on track.
The Heritage Junior Hockey League took a break Jan. 7 for their annual All-Star Game at Murray Arena in Okotoks. Hnatowich and Hayden Vander Ploeg were the only representatives from the Kings to take part in the celebratory event, as the Southern Division edged the Northern Division 7-6 in a shootout.
The Kings will host their first game of 2018 at the Strathmore Family Centre Jan. 12 when they host the division-leading High River Flyers (16-10-3). Puck drop is set for 8 p.m. Wrapping up the weekend, the Kings will take on the Cochrane Generals (16-11-1) at the Spray Lakes Family Centre the following evening.