It was a good weekend for the Dennis GM Western Kings.
The third-ranked team in the Newfoundland and Labrador Major Midget Hockey League playoffs earned a split on the road against the St. John’s Maple Leafs, a club that finished 16 points ahead of them in the regular season standings.
A 3-1 victory on Saturday in Mount Pearl gave the Kings a brief series lead, until the Leafs responded with a 5-3 triumph on Sunday in Bay Bulls.
Still, for the Kings (12-19-1), the split was something they could surely build upon — except now everyone has split, literally.
The league has entered a three-week hiatus due to the Canada Winter Games, which open Friday in Red Deer, Alta., so if there was any momentum gained for the Kings, it will likely die off-ice before the series resumes.
“Maybe a little bit,” acknowledged Kings right winger Noah Legge, in response to whether the break would pump the brakes on any spark received from the opening-game win.
“But it gives us time to refocus and recharge,” he offered. “We’ll have a few practices, get back together and get things straight.”
Legge, who was fourth in team scoring — tied for 18th leaguewide — with 12 goals and six assists in 31 games, said the Kings have played the Leafs tough all season. That checks out, as the team held a 5-6 record against their east coast opposition in this campaign.
“If we all come together as a team, I think we can pull through,” he said. “We should be able to get the job done.”
The son of Chris and Sherry of Cow Head was held off the board in those opening two games, so maybe this halt in the action won’t affect him negatively.
It’s his third and final year with the team, so going out with a championship win would mean a lot to him.
Despite the challenges the team has faced at various points this season, he believes a title victory is possible. He points at the positive attitudes in the locker room, the hard work each and every play puts in on the ice, and the experienced coaches behind the bench as reasons why.
“There are no attitudes for any of the players,” he said. “It’s just a good group of kids.”
The best-of-seven semifinal resumes with Game 3 at 7:30 p.m. on March 1 at the Hodder Memorial Recreation Complex.
In the other semifinal series, the top-seeded East Coast Blizzard and fourth-place Tri Pen Osprey also split the opening two games. The Osprey stunned the Blizzard 4-3 in Game 1, with the Blizzard edging the Osprey 5-4 to even the series in Game 2.