(Story courtesy of Darnell Duff/730CKDM)
Another busy weekend of regular season hockey is on tap for the Dauphin Kings.
Ranked 10th in this week’s Canadian Junior Hockey League Top 20 rankings, Dauphin will be on home ice Friday against Waywayseecappo before they’re off to Virden to play the Oil Capitals on Saturday night. Opening last weekend on home ice against the Wolverines, Dauphin came out of the dressing room on fire as they scored five times in the first 8:18 of the first and they led the game 5-2 after 20 minutes. Jordan Bax then scored his second goal of the night in the second period, and he completed his hat-trick in the third as Dauphin went on to hammer the Wolverines by a final score of 7-2. Cayden Glover notched three assists in the game.
“It was one of our best starts of the season, we created some great odd man rushes, and we had some decent finish,” said Doug Hedley, head coach and general manager. “We always talk about using our speed and attacking with speed and most of the night, that’s exactly what we did. It worked out well for us.”
Dauphin then made the just more than three-hour trip to Manitoba’s capital on Sunday to play the Winnipeg Freeze. It was a Freeze team that won both of their games at the league’s Showcase; however, they couldn’t stick with one of the top teams in the nation as Dauphin scored four times on the power-play and one time shorthanded in a 7-2 victory. This time it was Anthony Bax that recorded a hat-trick while Naaman Hofer had three assists.
While it wasn’t one of Dauphin’s best performances of the season, they still found a way to get the job done and it was also a milestone night for Austin Seibel as he won his first Junior A game.
“That team is getting harder to play against, they work hard, and they have some good young talent,” offered Hedley. “They’re also well-coached. We went into Winnipeg to get a road win and it’s great that we were able to do just that.”
Dauphin has been in a league of their own as of late while on the man advantage. Against Winnipeg, Dauphin went 4-for-6 on the power play. Dauphin started the season by scoring just three times on their first 27 chances on the man advantage, but they have turned things around. Over their past five games, Dauphin has scored 13 times across 30 chances which works out to 43.3%. Two weeks ago, the team was 11.1%, and now, Dauphin leads the league on the power play at 28.1%.
“Guys are starting to get more comfortable with each other and they’re creating movement away from the puck,” said Hedley. “The guys are starting to shoot more and they’re finding success because of it.”
Coming off his hat-trick, Anthony Bax leads Dauphin with 15 points as he’s averaging 1.25 points per game while Hofer is just behind with 14 points and an average of 1.17 points per game. Anthony made plenty of noise in his first game as a King last year when he scored both of the team’s goals in a win against Neepawa and this year, the 20-year-old from Parkhill, ON. has been outstanding and he was recently named the Safe Work Manitoba Defenseman of the Month in the MJHL. Hofer won the same award in September.
All seven of Dauphin’s defensemen have recorded at least a point and they have combined for 44 points as they continue to be a key cog in Dauphin’s success.
“We knew the back end was going to help carry us early in the season and they sure have,” offered Hedley. “They do a great job of carrying the game and they’re also not allowing many odd-man rushes. They are all creative and make a good first pass. They’re using each other to spread teams out and they’re getting pucks to the net as well.”
Dauphin’s newest addition to the team Cayden Glover has one goal and six points in as many games after starting his junior career in the Western Hockey League where he played 123 games.
“He’s a real good skater with some great speed and his first three steps are outstanding,” said Hedley. “It’s about wanting to get better every time you come to the rink, and I believe he’s definitely right on that track.”
Just like Dauphin’s win against the Freeze was a milestone one for Seibel as he earned his first win, the team’s 7-2 victory 48 hours prior against Waywayseecappo was also a milestone night for a local star as Madden Murray scored his first junior goal 8:18 into the game after Rylan Gibbs fed him the puck and Murray let go of a snipe that beat Marek Andres. Murray now has one goal and one assist in six games with his hometown junior team and he has looked excellent over the past few games as he continues to hit his stride in his rookie campaign.
“He has been really good for the last three games, he’s been physical and he’s separating guys from the puck,” said Murray. “He had a shift against Winkler in overtime that we showed on our highlight reel. He had 25 to 30 seconds of true compete. His skill set is getting better. We’re very happy with his work ethic and his commitment to getting better and it’s going to bode well for him moving ahead.”
Next up for the Kings is a date with the Wolverines on Friday night at 7:30 at Credit Union Place. It’s a game you can hear with Darnell Duff starting with the Parkland Source for Sports pregame show at 7:15. Dauphin enters the game with 10 wins and just two losses while the Wolverines are 8-8-0-1.
“They have some real good team speed up front and they have proven that they can score,” ended Hedley. “You can’t take any team in this league lightly; we have to really make sure that we outwork and out chance them and be consistent as we have been all year.”
Dauphin then heads to Virden on Saturday before playing a pair of games in Neepawa against the Titans next week and then they have a rematch with Winkler next Sunday at 4:00 p.m. at Credit Union Place.