(Story courtesy of Darnell Duff/730CKDM)
The Dauphin Kings have once again moved up the rankings.
After earning a pair of wins over the weekend against Waywayseecappo and Virden, Dauphin is now ranked sixth in the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s (CJHL) Top 20 rankings. It is Dauphin’s highest ranking this season as the team continues to make noise to start the campaign, winning 12 of their 14 games so far.
In their most recent action over the weekend, Dauphin scored three goals in a matter of 58 seconds early in the third period against the Wolverines as they eventually skated off with a 5-3 win.
Then the following night, Dauphin made their way to Tundra Oil & Gas Place where they played the Virden Oil Capitals. It was the Oil Caps’ that came out of the gate firing on all cylinders with back-to-back goals as they were up 2-0 after 20 minutes. Just like they did prior at the league’s showcase against Winkler when they battled back from two down to win, Dauphin was at it again.
Havyril Simchuk scored a gorgeous goal late in the second to trim the deficit to one and then on the power play, Gabriel Bugeaud tied the game. No goals were scored in the third nor in overtime and Alex Senf sealed the game in the shootout as Dauphin came from behind to earn their 12th win and once again downed one of the top teams in the league.
Heading into a busy three-game week which includes a rematch with Winkler on Sunday afternoon, Dauphin is on top of the West Division by two points over Virden and the Kings have a pair of games in hand. Dauphin’s .857 winning percentage is second in the league, only behind Winkler, and the Kings are only three points back of Steinbach for first place overall and the Kings have two games in hand on the defending champions. They will be in Steinbach on November 24.
After a slow start to the season on the man advantage which saw the Kings score just three times on their first 27 chances, Dauphin has turned things around. They were 13 for their last 30 heading into the contest against Wayway and after going 3-for-13 on the power play over the weekend, Dauphin is now 16 for their last 43 (37%) and they lead the league overall at 27.1%.
His work ethic is outstanding and Cole Sheffield has been nothing short of outstanding to start the season. The 19-year-old from London has won all 11 of his starts as he joins Liam Ernst of Winkler as the only two goalies in the league that has yet to lose this season. Keep in mind, Ernst has only played in six games.
Sheffield improved his save percentage to .919 with a 39 save performance against Virden and his 2.04 goals-against average is fifth in the league. Sheffield’s attention to detail is a big reason why he is off to such a great start and while he is happy with his play to date, Sheffield also understands there is plenty of work to do.
Dauphin has a very well-balanced offensive approach this year as six skaters have at least 12 points, led by Anthony Bax and Naaman Hofer who both have 15.
Playing on the team’s checking line, Logan Walker brings a lot to the team and he has taken his offensive game to the next level this year. With nine goals, Walker leads the team in scoring and his 13 points are tied for third. Jordan Bax (13), Blake Boudreau (13), and Gabriel Bugeaud (12) have paced the team’s offence up front this year while Alex Senf has chipped in with eight points.
They’re scoring and still doing a great job in their own end. Dauphin’s defensive core has been fantastic this year both offensively and defensively. As noted above, Bax Senior and Hofer alone have combined for 30 points. Aidan Brook has seven, Nolan Wickham and Trey Gnetz both have six while Karson Raymond and Aidan Murray both have a single point.
Dauphin’s mobility on the back end is a definite strong suit and with the ability to ramp things up physically, the Kings back end has led things while the team’s forwards are starting to hit their stride.
Overall, it’s a very deep roster and the Kings will look to keep it going this week with three games. On Tuesday and Saturday, the team heads to Neepawa to play the Titans before the Flyers come to Credit Union Place on Sunday. You can hear Tuesday’s and Sunday’s game with Darnell Duff on 730CKDM.