CORNER BROOK It’s so much harder to play the game from the seat of your pants.
That’s the mindset of the Western Kings as they tangle with the St. John’s Privateers in a two-game set series this weekend at the Pepsi Centre in a showdown of the two undefeated teams in the provincial major midget hockey league.
“We got to be physical, that’s the way we play,” Kings puckstopper Daniel McCarthy said Wednesday before the team hit the ice for a practice. “Our offence will come. It’s been there in the past, so we just got to keep the hitting up and force them off the puck.”
The Kings have been the story of the provincial league so far with an impressive eight-game winning streak intact. The Privateers have yet to taste defeat this year as well, recording six straight wins to start the 2012-13 season.
This will mark the first regular season meeting of the two franchises. The Kings defeated the Privateers in their only matchup of the year, which came in the league’s annual kick-off tournament that saw the Kings prevail with a record of three wins and one tie.
McCarthy, in his third season with the Kings, has been impressed with the way the team has meshed together and found a renewed confidence. He said it’s so much fun going to the rink knowing you have a chance to compete every night, a stark contrast to several seasons where the players never believed they had what it took to beat the powerhouse from St. John’s and most of the time the Kings just fought hard to keep it respectable on the scoreboard.
It’s a different atmosphere around the team this year and McCarthy believes the Kings can give any team a run for their money if they play solid hockey for 60 minutes.
“It’s going to be close, tight games and hopefully we can come out with two wins,” he said.
Josh Taylor, a forward known for his checking abilities on the third line, is excited about the team’s early success and he is eager to see how the Kings stack up against the Privateers since they last met in the kick-off tournament.
“We’re going to practice hard this week and prepare ourselves for this weekend, and we have to make sure we come out hitting,” Taylor said. If we come out hitting we’ll be OK.”
Taylor doesn’t worry about things out of his control. He would rather just show up to play hard every shift and let the cards fall where they may.
“I just have to take the body and shut them down,” he said. “Just go out and play defensive and if we get any goals it’s just gravy.”
The Kings will clash with the Privateers Saturday 7 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. at the Pepsi Centre before all league entries take a week off to participate in the annual Monctonian AAA Challenge next month. McCarthy is hoping the Kings continue to draw bigger crowds than last year.
He was impressed with the 400-plus fans who watched him pick up the win between the pipes against the Maple Leafs Saturday past at the Pepsi Centre.
“It’s good to see people are coming out to support us. I think now that we’re on the winning side of things we’ll continue to get more fans out,” he said.
Kings GM Leonard Smith is enjoying the success the team has found early in the year and would love to see it continue.
“I’ve been around major midget a long time and I’ve never seen Western so upbeat,” he said. “They’re not getting overconfident by no means. They just feel confident. We all feel this is a big weekend. We’d like to be undefeated going into Moncton. It’s not going to be the end of the world if we don’t, but if we do it will be a big plus for us before Moncton.”