The West Division standings in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League are much tighter than they have been in recent years.
The Virden Oil Capitals are in sixth place, but they’re just 10 points back of Waywayseecappo for first while the Neepawa Titans have 42 points and they are five back of the Wolverines.
OCN and Swan Valley both have 44 points apiece and the Dauphin Kings are right in the thick of things as they enter this weekend with 43 points which has them just four points back of the Wolverines.
Of course, four points will be up for grabs this weekend when Dauphin locks horns with the Wolverines. Dauphin finds themselves where they are in the standings after a mixed bag to start 2023.
In their first game after the break, Dauphin struggled defensively in a 6-4 loss against the Winnipeg Blues. They then got hot late and came back from two goals down in a 6-5 overtime thriller the following night.
Dauphin then played one of the better second periods that they have this season and secured two points in a 4-3 win against Swan Valley. The Kings then followed that up by coming out flat in their last game, a 4-0 loss against the OCN Blizzard. Four games so far in 2023 and two wins for the Kings.
Doug Hedley, the team’s head coach and general manager had this to say about the team’s action over the past couple of weeks.
“One word to classify things so far is inconsistent,” offered Hedley. “That first game after the break is always tough and I don’t think we were good enough away from the puck. We were outstanding in the second period against Swan Valley and we controlled their speed for the most part. We have a good group here, the coaching staff believes everyone in.
While Dauphin lost their last game out, the team has gone 6-2-0-1 over their last nine games and they have scored 37 goals in the process. Sam Boldt is also starting to fit in very nicely with his new team.
He made his debut last Wednesday against Swan Valley and he played his second game with Dauphin on Tuesday night. Sam makes a solid first pass and he makes smart plays which will only make Dauphin more dangerous moving ahead.
“He has a good hockey IQ, he’s patient and he sees thru the attack,” offered Boldt. “He compliments our top-six on the back end. He is going to get another good opportunity to play and quarterback the second power-play unit.”
Now we get down to this weekend’s action against Waywayseecappo. The Wolverines have won two of the three contests against Dauphin this season, the last was a shootout victory on December 17.
he Wolverines are among the hottest teams in the league as they have won four of their five games in 2023 so far with their lone blip coming earlier this week in a 4-2 loss against Neepawa.
One year removed from finishing second in the West Division before being upset in the first round of the playoffs, Waywayseecappo is led by Carson Baptiste and Andrew Boucher, a dynamic duo that has combined for 84 points, 37 of which are goals.
“These are four-point games and they’re basically playoff games for us right now,” offered Hedley. “Baptiste and Boucher are always pushing the pace and making it tough on their opponents. They create turnovers and they make fast plays happen. With that said, we know we can compete with the Wolverines, we have shown that in the past.
If you look back to last year, Dauphin lost to OCN, 7-2, on February 12, then they took off. The Kings ended the season by winning 12 of their last 13 games and they went on to win the Turnbull Cup over Steinbach in seven games.
Dauphin has 21 more regular season games this year and four of the team’s next five games come at Credit Union Place including on February 3 when the Niverville Nighthawks make their first visit to town.
- Dauphin enters Friday’s game with a record of 13-5-0-1 and their 27 home points are the most in the West Division;
- Dauphin hasn’t lost two straight games for more than a month;
- Matthew Gough continues to lead the Kings with 32 points while Mason Smith has racked up 28;
- The team will host their ‘Skills Competition on Monday, January 23 from 1:30 to 3 at Credit Union Place, admission is free for all; and
- Ukrainian Night tickets will be on sale at the box office