The Wheatland Kings ended 2022 on a sour note, as they allowed 6 goals in consecutive games in a 1-6 loss to the Cochrane Generals and 5-6 loss to the Coaldale Copperheads. As they head into a two-week Christmas break, the consecutive losses have the Kings on a four game losing streak, which comes as a bit of a surprise given the team's recent success with Head Coach Doug Raycroft.
The usually stout defense's weekend breakdown is something Kings' GM Lee Smith says is due to some key defensive players being out due to sickness. On top of that, the goalie tandem of Rhett Harten and Landen Brassard is usually solid but didn't perform to their high expectations.
"I think it was just a rough weekend, they (the goalies) just had a tough night, but you know what? It's going to happen. You can't expect them to be stopping 30-35 shots every game and not throwing a bad one in there," Smith said.
Obviously, the goalie performance wasn't ideal, but Smith isn't worried about the long-term performance of his goalies as he thinks they'll have no trouble returning to their usual high standard of play. As for the rest of the team, Smith is happy with how the team competed, even during this losing streak.
"The biggest thing with the last four games is we've been in every game. The Cochrane game doesn't look like it, but we were just one or two bounces from having that game tied. We hit a bunch of goal posts this weekend and that kind of stuff. We didn't play very well yesterday (against Coaldale) but in the last four or five minutes we scored three goals to get back in the game. Every game that we've lost in the last four, we've had a chance to win."
Earlier this season, staying out of the penalty box was a huge problem for the Kings. While they've mostly resolved that problem, it came back to haunt the Kings against the Generals.
"With Cochrane you just cannot beat them if you're in the penalty box, you will not beat them, nobody in this league will. Their power play is just too good, it's probably the best power play in the league."
The Kings will be off for Christmas break and will return 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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