October certainly hasn't been kind to the Wheatland Kings, but they ended the month on a strong note as they broke their 10 game losing streak with a 6-2 win over the Coaldale Copperheads on Sunday. They also battled hard against the Okotoks Carstar Bisons on Saturday, losing that game 2-0.
Breaking the losing streak is of course great, but Kings GM Lee Smith felt the entire weekend went really well, including the loss.
"We played really well and we ended up with a win and everyone played really well," Smith said about the weekend,
"We played really well, the guys really came to play. We had our opportunities, we just couldn't put the puck in the net but overall the performance was fantastic," he added about the Bison's game.
"We were really gung-ho on Saturday night (against the Bisons), they came out firing right away. It was 0-0 after the first, they got a couple of goals in the second and we held them in the third. We had lots of opportunities to tie the game, their goaltender just played really well and we couldn't finish."
While breaking the losing streak is of course big news, the main headline coming out of the weekend is new Head Coach Doug Raycroft, who replaced Ron West. So far, Smith is happy with the early results.
"I think it was something that we needed to do, and the players have responded really well. Everything is kind of coming into place, Doug is a great hockey man, and I think he will do really well for us."
One of the main problems the team has faced is the penalty box. Last weekend Smith explained they were able to keep the penalties under control, especially against the Bisons where they only had four penalties. Another key focus was getting consistent, team-based play, which Smith says the Kings definitely accomplished.
"We played as a team unit, we rolled with all four lines, and all four lines came to play and they played well. Goaltending was good, both goaltenders played and they both played really well. The defense played well, everyone all around played well, we just got a few things to work on and Doug is going to address that in practice."
The 6-2 win over the Copperheads was especially nice for Smith.
"It was definitely well needed, we hadn't scored that many goals in a game all year, so it was nice to see that we could do it. Philip Raycroft had a hat trick and he played really well for us. It was nice to get into the scoring column."
With the losing streak behind them, Smith and the Kings will look to build some positive momentum when they travel to High River to take on the Flyers on Friday, before hosting the Mountainview Colts on Saturday night at 8:00 PM.
"The way we're looking at it is that we want to build every week, get better every game, meet our goals, and go forward from there."