The Wheatland Kings split their weekend games, starting off with a 4-1 loss to the league leading Okotoks Carstars Bisons on Friday before rebounding with a 5-1 home win over the Coaldale Copperheads. The Bisons are 28-2, so it's not just the Kings that have struggled to find ways to beat them. Despite their strong record, Kings' Head Coach Doug Raycroft believes his team has what it takes to beat the Bisons.
"We lost to them 2-1 (earlier in the season) and we easily could have won that game, we kind of had some bad luck," he said.
However, Raycroft isn't too focused on the past and what could've been, and is instead looking ahead to what the team needs to do to finally earn a victory over the strongest team in the league.
"To beat those top teams you really have to be good in your own zone and play good defensively and you have to match their work ethic. They're a hard working team, they're fast."
In the 4-1 loss, Raycroft explained the Kings failed to do what he mentioned, as several defensive breakdowns lead to Bisons' goals and the Kings didn't put together a consistent 60 minute effort. While there's always room to be better, Raycroft added the Kings didn't play a horrible game though, and they just got beat by a team that's done a lot of winning this year.
Following up that loss with a dominant 5-1 win was certainly a great palate cleanser for the Kings, although Raycroft still hopes to see more consistency as they started the game slow. However, a strong second period put the game out of reach for Coaldale, and Raycroft was happy to see how his team bounced back from adversity and put together a strong effort.
"It was a pretty good game for our guys, we had a lot of power play goals and it's nice to see all the work we've put in on power play lead to some success."
Since the start of the new year the Kings are 3-2, which doesn't seem particularly noteworthy, but the team seems to have upped their game since December. Aside from the Okotoks loss, the other loss was a tight 4-5 battle against the Medicine Hat Cubs, who are second in the division with a 21-5-3 record. The Kings have a good chance ahead of them to prove they really have stepped up,and they will have another tough weekend ahead of them.
"Right in front of us is a tough road game in Coaldale on Saturday and then a home game against one of the best teams in the league (Medicine Hat), so we're just trying to build from one game to the next."
The Kings will be at home on Sunday to play the Medicine Hat Cubs with an afternoon game, the puck drops at 4:30!
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