The Wheatland Kings are getting set to take on the two top teams in the league this weekend, and this week's Strathmore Motor Products King of the Week team captain Chase Clayton says the team has a main focus heading into the weekend.
"I do think we need to focus on using our speed a little bit more, we're a quick young team. We need more shots too we haven't really tested out many of the goalies we've played against."
Clayton is a veteran on the team, being one of the four 21-year-olds selected to play for the Kings this season. Heading into his last season has brought on a different feeling for the long-time player.
"It's a little more motivation. All the guys that were finishing up last year, I know they wanted to win a lot more than the other guys, so now I see where they're coming from on that end. Everybody wants to get a good final season."
Over the past four seasons, there have been some highlights along the way for Clayton, one being last year when the team advanced to the second round of the playoffs. He believes the team can repeat this feat, but it'll take a slight shift on the ice.
To make it far in the playoffs they'll have to make it past the undefeated Okotoks Carstar Bisons and Cochrane Generals, who they will be playing on the road this weekend. They've faced both teams this year and have not secured a win against either team yet, but Clayton feels that this team has the potential to come away with a win.
"We had practice Tuesday night, I thought that was our best practice. We did a lot more of the hard work battle drills, so I just think we need to come in ready to work hard and play a full 60 because we haven't done that yet."
Being the captain and a leader in the dressing room is not something Clayton takes lightly, as he knows that the example he sets will filter down to the rest of the team on and off the ice. It's his goal this year to be a strong leader and to continue to foster a positive environment for the team, but also show them that getting to play on this team is a privilege rather than just an option.
The Kings have a few more young players on the roster this year but Clayton explained that the chemistry is already there as many of those players played together in AA last year, and it's just about stepping up in this league that is bigger and faster.
"They (the rookie players) came off a pretty hard-working good team last year. They are bringing that effort to the Kings team which definitely is helping and honestly just the speed that the guys brought is helpful for sure."
Clayton spoke about the team commitment off the ice, saying that this team is working hard in practices and training outside of everything else. With a lot of players having full-time jobs or school on top of their commitment to the team he said the dedication to the Kings is definitely there.
As a defensemen, Clayton did say there was one highlight that will go in the memory bank from this season already.
"This year we went to a shootout with a team in the preseason, and the coaches for some reason put me out there and I managed to score, which is pretty unheard of. I told the coaches 'sure put me out and let's see what happens it's the preseason, why not give it a shot.'"
Even though Clayton has a full-time job and works on the family farm, that doesn't stop him from giving it his all on the ice, with the hope of seeing the Kings back in the playoffs.
"You never know, if we work hard there is no reason we can't we win the whole thing."
To keep up to date with all the Kings games, players' stats and team updates visit wheatlandkings.com.
The Kings next home game is October 22nd at 8 p.m. against the Three Hills Thrashers.