The Wheatland Kings officially kicked off their season over the weekend with 3 games.
On Friday the team was on the road to Rocky Mountain House to start their season against the Rocky Rams. It was a good night for the team coming away with a 4-0 win.
The team was back on the road on Saturday night to play the Red Deer Vipers. It was a much closer game with the Kings heading to a shootout with Chase Tweit scoring the winning goal, earning a hard fought 3-2 win.
The great start to the weekend had Kings General Manager Lee Smith feeling good about the direction of the team.
"I would say the weekend was a success. Friday night in Rocky Mountain House we won 4-0. That was the first start for Brett Harden, our rookie goaltender, and he had a shutout, so that's a good sign. Saturday we played a tough game in Red Deer where we won 3-2 in a shootout and the guys showed a lot of guts there," he said.
The quick start on the road was great to see, but the Kings had a quick turn-around, as they played the Cochrane Generals on Sunday for their home opener.
The first five minutes was a pretty even match-up and then the Generals scored three quick goals in under a minute. The Kings were chasing that lead for the remainder of the game.
At the end of the first period, the Kings were down 4-1. There was a quick goal from Ryder Many Grey Horses at the top of the second period. However, it was all Cochrane after that with the period ending with a score of 9-3.
During the second-period emotions were running high on both sides with a fight breaking out with penalties being handed out to multiple players on both sides including game misconduct penalties for Jaycob Masciangelo of the Kings and Tristan Ripplinger of the Generals. Smith said fights can sometimes get the team going, but on Sunday it only made a bad situation worse.
"The official ended up giving us the major and having two of our guys kicked out. And that didn't help, they were two of our top players. The hit that was made on Masciangelo was a little suspect. It was right from behind a man and he (Generals' player) basically walked away with a 2 minute minor which started everything. So I would say that it deflated us for sure just because of the outcome of the officiating calls."
The penalties kept coming in the third period but only two goals were scored, one by the Generals and one coming from Ryder Many Grey Horses for the Kings.
The end result was an 11-4 game where things just didn't go the Kings' way. After the game Smith gave the Generals credit for being one of the top teams in the league, but also said fatigue from travelling so much played a role in the big defeat. The team didn't get home until 2:30 a.m. on Friday, and then travelled to Red Deer to play on Saturday. They didn't get home until 1:00 a.m. on Sunday, so the fatigue caught up to the team for their home opener.
"The guys were pretty tired, they didn't come out with quite the jump that they normally do, that they had in the other two games. I think it (fatigue) definitely played a part in it (the loss) and the next time we play on there will be a whole different story."
Even though the weekend didn't end the way the Kings wanted, Smith is still very happy with where the team is.
"I can't remember a time that the Kings started off 2-1. We're real happy with where we're at. They're playing very good hockey. Even Sunday they played alright. We just kind of ran into a couple of things with the travel from the two nights before and what have you, but you know what? They played really well and you can't really take anything away from the boys."
They will be back on home ice on Saturday night as the Rocky Rams come to town, game time is 8:00 p.m.
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