Playoffs come to an end for the Morinville Kings

Above: The Morinville Kings playoff season ended with a 6-1 loss at home Sunday night in game five of a best-of-five series against the Devon Barons. – Stephen Dafoe Photo

by Stephen Dafoe and Morinville Online

Morinville Kings Matt Benko works to get the puck out of Morinville’s zone during game five of the best-of-five series against the Devon Barons on Feb. 12. – Stephen Dafoe Photo

Heading into the weekend, the Morinville Kings were leading 2-1 in a best-of-five North Central Hockey League playoff series against the Devon Barons. But back-to-back losses on the road and at home brought the Kings’ hopes of carrying on to the next round to an end.

The Kings lost 6-3 on the road on Saturday, Feb. 11 and 6-1 at home on Sunday, Feb. 12.

Saturday’s road game saw the Kings and Barons tied 2-2 after the first 20 minutes, but the Kings were down 5-2 after two. Another goal in the final period did little to help the Kings’ cause, and the Barons fired their final goal into an empty net.

Despite the loss, the Kings and Barons were close in chances, with the Barons outshooting Morinville 47-42.

Kings’ President and Coach Wayne Gatza said injuries, including a player who took a puck to the ear requiring ten stitches, had the Kings running a short bench.

“Basically, we played with two lines last night,” Gatza said of the road game. “The boys played hard, but we had our chances late.”

Although the Kings had three lines running for Sunday night’s do-or-die home-ice contest, it was far from the result the team hoped for.

It is hard to provide offence when most of the game is spent on defence. Over 60 minutes, the Barons peppered backstop Tye Schwabb with 52 shots through 60 minutes, outpacing the Kings’ 19 scoring opportunities by a factor of almost three to one.

The Kings ended the first period trailing the Barons 3-1. That tally expanded to a 5-1 deficit after 40 minutes, and finished with a 6-1 defeat, bringing the Kings’ playoff run to an end.

The Kings and Barons battle for the puck during the second period. – Stephen Dafoe Photo

Morinville King Blake Grainger tries to put one past Barons’ goalie Jordan Cooke during game five of the best-of-five playoff series on Feb. 12. – Stephen Dafoe Photo

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