Another pair of weekend games saw another split for the Wheatland Kings, who have now split their weekends for three weeks in a row. After travelling to Coaldale and taking down the Copperheads 4-3 in overtime, the Kings hosted the Medicine Hat Cubs and lost 2-1 on Sunday.

Even though they fell short against the Cubs, Kings General Manager Lee Smith was happy with the team's effort.

"We played really well yesterday in the loss to Medicine Hat and they're a really good team. So we just proved that we could play with them and we need to do that with those top teams," he said.

Ironically, Smith was happier with the team's effort in the loss than how they played against Coaldale in the win. After gaining a 2-0 lead, the Copperheads fought back for a 3-2 lead before the Kings tied the game with just 1:50 left in the third, before winning in overtime.

"We didn't play that well, which is kind of concerning because Coaldale looks like who we're going to play in the first round of the playoffs, but coming back and winning in overtime after they tied it up, that was big. We went through the adversity and then came back and won."

This month and the split games has seen a trend of postgame interviews where either Smith or Head Coach Doug Raycroft will applaud the team's effort in defeat against a top team, but criticize a win. While a big part of this is mainly focused on constructive criticism and improving the team, Smith pointed to the league's parity as well. While on the outside looking in this may look like the Kings playing up or down to their competition, Smith said this isn't the case, as the teams are a lot closer in talent and skill than the standings may suggest.

"The league is a lot more even than most people think across the board. You had High River beat Cochrane the other day and there's 30 points in separation between those two, right? The parity in the league is a lot better, so I think everyone in the lower half that's fighting for playoff spots, fighting for position is really working extremely hard to get there."

While the Kings earned a statement win over Cochrane earlier this season, they have yet to beat Medicine Hat or Okotoks, although they've come close. Smith says it'll take a full team effort, disciplined hockey, and stout defense to get over the hump and earn a win. Fortunately for the Kings, Smith says their identity is rooted in effort, so he's hoping the effort won't be a problem when these teams meet again.

The Kings will immediately have a chance for a statement win this Friday when they travel to Okotoks to take on the league leading Carstar Bisons. They'll also have one more chance to take the Cubs down in the regular season in their season finale on February 12 on home ice.

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