by Stephen Dafoe
The only disappointment from Saturday night’s playoff game was that it wasn’t played at home where Morinville Kings fans could celebrate the Senior AA team’s fifth consecutive playoff win and second consecutive playoff series.
After defeating the Westlock Warriors in two straight in the opening round, the Kings swept through the Red Deer Warriors to take the NCHL semi-finals in three straight.
“The Kings were a determined group after falling short last season,” said Kings President Wayne Gatza of the series. “They played like a team battling hard for the overall success of the team with every player contributing.”
The Kings ended the opening frame tied 1-1 with Red Deer, but falling short on chances 16-9. The Kings’ lead in the next 20 minutes, heading into the third period with a 3-2 lead, which included two scored on powerplay opportunities. The final frame gave the Kings another three goals, two of those powerplay opportunities. When the final buzzer hit, the Kings backstop Ty Swabb had stopped 34 of the 37 shots Red Deer sent his way.
“Tonight our power play was working great and our goaltending was outstanding,” Gatza said, noting the discipline was key in the series. “The series was very physical and the boys remained disciplined throughout the series, which I tip my hat too as it was very difficult to remain disciplined after a two-hand slash to the back of the legs or a late hit etc. But they listened to the pre-game speech and followed it to a tee.”
Gatza said the club’s discipline is a true testament to their character, something the coaching staff is proud of.
The Kings will play the Daysland Northstars in the finals.
“This is our first appearance in the NCHL Finals, so we are very excited and looking forward to playing for the league championship,” Gatza said. “We are looking forward to playing in the MAC [Ray McDonald Sports Center] in front of a full house on the weekend of Mar 9 and 10.
Saturday night’s win also clinched a provincial stop for the Kings.
Publisher’s note – article updated 10 p.m. Sunday with new info on who the Kings play in the finals.