Above: The Morinville Kings play their final game in the Ray McDonald Sports Center Mar. 9. Friday night’s road game gave the Kings the NCHL CHampionship.
by Stephen Dafoe
Friday night marked a seven-win run for the Morinville Sr. AA Kings, who defeated Daysland in three straight to take the North Central Senior AA Hockey League Championship.
In the opening series against Westlock, the Kings fell in overtime in the opening game but won the next two to take the series. It would be their only loss towards the cup as they took down Red Deer and Daysland in three straight in their respective best-of-five series.
Kings President and Coach Wayne Gatza said the team their opponents 57-25 over the nine games in the playoff run.
“The boys were extremely focused in the League Finals. Everyone wanted to win the championship, and in order to win, we needed every player in the room to buy in and commit to doing the little things that make the difference between winning and losing,” Gatza said. “[It] starts with discipline, quick shifts, moving your feet, teamwork, doing your job, batting hard and being positive.”
Gatza went on to say that no team wins without every player contributing. To that end, the coach said all four lines, wave after wave, did exactly what was needed to complete the sweep.
“Our goalie played outstanding again for the team making big saves at the right time,” Gatza said. “I am so proud that these players worked very hard together as one to win. Daysland didn’t back off they came at us hard all series so we knew we had to win all those puck battles down low and on the wall in both ends to win. We did.”
A loss Friday night would have given Morinville King fans one last time to see the team on home ice as a fourth game was scheduled at the Ray McDonald Sports Centre Saturday night.
However, Gatza said the team is looking forward to the championship banner going up in the new rink.
“No Morinville team above minor hockey has won a league championship to my knowledge and we a very happy to capture a championship and look forward to hanging our banner in the new arena,” Gatza said, adding the team is thankful to their fans and sponsors for their support this past season.