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Orillia's Experience Nissan Kings are starting to round into shape as they try to overcome a slow start to the Ontario Lacrosse Association Jr. B season.
The Kings rallied from an early 4-1 deficit and then hung on to earn a 9-8 win over the West Durham Ironheads in a hotly-contested game Wednesday night at the Ajax Community Centre. With the win, Orillia inches closer to the .500 mark and now sports a respectable 4-5 record.
The visitors got off to a sluggish start Wednesday night and the Ironheads took advantage, jumping out to a 4-2 advantage after the first 20 minutes. In the second, the Kings looked like a different team as they moved the ball with precision, pressured West Durham relentlessly in their own end, played stifling defence and outscored the home side 6-1. "It was probably the best all-around period the team has played this year," said Rob Blasdell, the Kings general manager and assistant coach.
Despite being outscored 3-1 in the final frame, the Kings had a solid third period and were able to hang on for the road win. Kings netminder Dylan O'Rourke was a key factor in the victory as he made some critical saves in a game in which Orillia was badly outshot.
Veteran Kings forward Trent Boyd led the offence with three goals, while Owen King, Matthew Campbell, Michael Montgomery, Nevin King, Tye King and Chris McLaughlin tallied single markers as part of Orillia's balanced attack. Tyler Goodchild had a good game distributing the ball, picking up five assists, David Wilkie had three helpers, while captain Jake Beard and rookie Mitchell Pellarin each chipped in with a pair of assists.
Specialty teams were also critical for the Kings in the win, as they tallied two power-play goals on three opportunities with the extra man and successfully killed off all eight West Durham power-plays.
The local squad, which has won three of its past four games, hopes to keep rolling this weekend as they have a pair of home games. But it won't be easy, as they face two of the league's best teams. On Friday night, Halton Hills (7-2-1) will pay a visit to Rotary Place; game time is 8 p.m. On Saturday night, the reigning Founder's Cup champion Oshawa Green Gaels (9-1) will be in town for a 7 p.m. clash with the Kings at Rotary Place.
On a night when the goaltending was superb and the defence was solid, the offence sputtered for Orillia's Experience Nissan Kings as they lost a heart-breaking 9-8 decision Saturday night to the Oakville Buzz.
The visitors got off to a fast start at Rotary Place, scoring just 52 seconds into the contest and took advantage of a team that looked tired early on to build a 4-2 advantage after 20 minutes.
But the home side showed some fight in the middle stanza. After Orillia netminder Cam Murphy stopped a short-handed breakaway and then made another stellar save seconds later, the Kings struck for two goals in 48 seconds to finally get back on even ground with the pesky Buzz at 6-6. However, with just seven ticks on the clock, Oakville snipped a back-breaking goal to lift them back into a narrow lead heading into the final frame.
In the third period, Oakville netminder Matt Hodowany made a pair of stellar stops to thwart the hard-charging Kings and the Buzz exploded for two goals in a six-second span to stretch their lead to 9-6. The Kings, however, refused to go quietly into the night.
Rookie Mitchell Pellarin scored a pretty breakaway goal to close the gap and Chris McLaughlin took a nifty pass from David Wilkie and then flashed quick hands to use a deft deke to tally a short-handed beauty that made it 9-8 halfway through the frame.
The Oakville defence stifled the Kings the rest of the game, frustrating the Orillia forward's time and time again. In the dying seconds, with Murphy on the bench in favour of an extra attacker, McLaughlin broke in all alone with a chance to knot the score but Hodowany made a critical stop to preserve the win and help his team improve to 4-4.
For the Kings, it was a disappointing result that saw their mini two-game win streak come to a crashing halt. Outside of McLaughlin, who continued his excellent play by leading the attack with four goals in a dominant performance, the offence seemed out of sync. Countless times, Kings snipers took low-percentage shots or just failed to click on passes that led to many turnovers and odd-man rushes the other way. While McLaughlin was the top gun, Dallin Blunt, Tyler Goodchild and Michael Montgomery also contributed goals while Goodchild added a pair of helpers.
Oakville used its speed and transition game at times to confound the Kings, who took three bench minor penalties for too many men on the floor as the home side struggled in the critical transition component of the game to defend the quick and talented Buzz forwards.
Despite the setback, all was not lost on the weekend as the Kings fired on all cylinders Friday night and cruised to an 18-12 win over the visiting Mississauga Tomahawks. Veteran Matthew Campbell had an outstanding night for the Kings, scoring five goals and setting up four in the impressive victory.
After squandering a three-goal first-period lead, the Kings regrouped at the intermission and then exploded for six second-period goals to seize control of the contest. Blunt was a sparkplug for the victors with two goals and three helpers, while Wilkie also had a strong game, netting one goal and setting up five. Nevin King recorded a hat trick for the victors while Trent Boyd potted a pair and singles were netted by Goodchild and Sean Caulfield. Dylan O'Rourke earned the net win.
With the weekend split, the Kings now sport a 3-5 record and will look to improve on that Wednesday when they travel to West Durham to battle the Markham Ironheads (4-3-1). On Friday night, the Kings host Halton Hills (5-2-1) in an 8 p.m. contest at Rotary Place. On Saturday, Orillia will welcome the reigning national champions from Oshawa as the Green Gaels (9-1) tangle with the Kings at 7 p.m. at Rotary Place. Last year, Orillia was the only team to beat the Green Gaels in the regular season.
KING THINGS: Captain Jake Beard had a strong game Saturday night in anchoring the Kings' solid defensive effort. Campbell, a fifth-year player, was held off the scoresheet Saturday night -- a rarity for the gifted forward who leads the team in scoring with 29 points in seven games. Orillia's penalty killing was superb Saturday night, but their power play struggled as they failed to generate scoring opportunities on their two-man advantages. It was the polar opposite Friday night as the Kings scored five times on six power-play chances and Mississauga tallied five goals on nine opportunities.
A last-minute goal gave the Orillia Experience Nissan Kings a dramatic 11-10 victory over the Newmarket Saints Saturday night to help the local Jr. B lacrosse team salvage a split of their weekend games.
The visiting Kings got off to a fast start against the Saints, built a well-deserved 6-2 lead by the midway point of the second period and looked to be in full control. But the Saints chipped away and closed the gap to 8-5 heading into the third.
Early in the final frame, Newmarket scored four straight goals to leapfrog ahead of the Kings 9-8. But veteran Matthew Campbell helped turn the tide when he scored a critical power-play goal to tie the contest. Less than a minute later veteran Trent Boyd scored to give Orillia back the lead.
But with 90 seconds left, Newmarket knotted the score and overtime loomed. However, Campbell scored with just 33 seconds left on the clock to put the dagger in the heart of the home-team as Orillia prevailed in the back-and-forth contest at the Ray Twinney Recreation Complex.
Campbell and Chris McLaughlin sparked the offence with three-goal efforts, while Dallin Blunt potted a pair. Single goals went to Boyd, Owen King and Trent Rowe. Tyler Goodchild was the top playmaker with four assists, while Teagan Meredith and Boyd each had a pair of helpers. Dylan O'Rourke picked up the win between the pipes.
"It was nice to win but it wasn't pretty," said Kings president Joel Campbell, who noted the game was, at times, an exercise in frustration. "But the boys showed some grit and fought back to get the (win). Hopefully, this will help us turn the corner."
The win was a confidence booster after Friday night's poor effort at home against a beatable team from Brampton. After a tight-checking first period that saw the two teams battle to a 1-1 draw, Brampton exploded for six goals to surge ahead 7-5 after 40 minutes. The Kings tried to fight their way back into the game, but the visitors took advantage of some costly mistakes and scored two power-play goals and a short-handed marker in the final nine minutes to earn the 13-8 decision.
For the Kings, McLaughlin led the way with three goals, while Blunt, King, Meredith, Campbell and David Wilkie netted single tallies. Wilkie had his best game of the season as he also chipped in four assists. Goodchild had three helpers, while O'Rourke was charged with the loss.
The Kings sport a 2-4 record and will look to climb back to the .500 mark this weekend as they have a pair of critical home games. On Friday night, the Kings will host Mississauga (4-0) in an 8 p.m. contest at Rotary Place. On Saturday, the Kings will host Oakville (1-4) at Rotary Place. Game time is 7 p.m.
KINGS THINGS: The Kings have yet to win at home in two contests at Rotary Place. Despite a sub-par 2-4 record, the Kings' 53 goals scored ranks them fifth among the 12 teams in the eastern conference. The Kings' annual golf tournament will be held May 28 at Hawk Ridge Golf and Country Club. There are some spots still available for golfers. If you're interested, email email@example.com.