Like many of us, the Wheatland Kinds are also enjoying their Christmas break four months into their season. With a record 9-14-2, Kings GM Lee Smith says this is the perfect time for a break before they gear up to make a strong push to end the year with a winning record.
"I think we need it; I think the guys probably need a break. We're going to practice throughout the break, but we've got some guys that are going on holidays, they need to go do that. The biggest thing is they just need to stay in shape. When we come back the schedule doesn't get any easier, it's going to be a tough go the first four or five games."
The break will be beneficial for the Kings even beyond the much-needed rest, as the team is also expected to bring back several key players. Top scorers Kage Yellowfly and Philip Raycroft are expected to be back, and several defenders who were sick for the last games of 2022. Having the team back together will give the Kings a big boost to their hopes of going on a run to build momentum in the playoffs.
Even with the returning players, Smith knows they can’t just rely on the boost they’ll provide. He says they’re always focused on continuing to improve however they can. With the early season struggles of too many penalties mostly resolved, the focus shifts to fundamentals like stout defense and creating better scoring opportunities. With early season problems like lack of discipline and inconsistent play mostly in the rear-view mirror, the Kings can instead focus on these bigger details to bring them to the next level.
The Kings entered the break on a four-game losing streak, which is the longest streak since their nine-game skid in October. While piling up losses is definitely not a good feeling, Smith has confidence in his young team and their ability to put it all together for the upcoming playoffs.
"They've been through playoff runs and they've done that kind of stuff. And they've won at the AA level and the AAA level and a lot of these kids played together for a long time and they know how to win. It's just a matter of we've got to do the right things, everybody's going to pull on the same rope.”
The Kings return after their break on January 6 to take on the High River Flyers on the road, followed by another road trip to face the Medicine Hat Cubs on the 8. Their first home game of 2023 will be on January 10 against the Mountain View Colts.
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