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.