© Geraldine Brophy
Western Kings Jordan Richards is seen during practice Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013 at the Pepsi Centre.
CORNER BROOK Jordan Richards has taken on a bigger leadership role this season, but it hasn‚Äôt hampered his offensive prowess.
The St. Anthony native is the captain of the Colemans Western Kings of the Newfoundland and Labrador Major Midget Hockey League. He will be leading the Kings into an action-packed weekend when the provincial league holds a round-robin tournament at the Whitbourne Arena. All five teams will converge on Whitbourne to play four games of hockey over three days in one of two showcase tournaments scheduled for the season in an effort to cut down on travel expenses for the respective franchise owners.
‚ÄúI am more involved with the team as a whole and trying to make sure everything is going smooth within the team and everybody is getting along,‚ÄĚ Richards said of the leadership role he accepted in his final year of eligibility with the Kings. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm just trying to do what I can for the team.‚ÄĚ
On the ice, Richards has been a key cog in the offensive charge as the defending champion Kings enter weekend play in third spot with 14 points after amassing a record of six wins, six losses and two overtime losses in 14 games.
Richards has lived in the city for the past two years with Duane and Michelle King ‚ÄĒ parents of his linemate Jordan King. He made the move from St. Anthony because he wanted to be on the ice more and around his teammates instead of having to travel back and forth in unpredictable weather.
He was rewarded with a championship run last year and now he‚Äôs back looking for another one in his final year.
Richards has chosen to do a lot of his talking on the ice, racking up nine goals and 12 assists in 14 games to put him in a three-way tie for second place overall in the league scoring race being led by Jordan Maher of the league-leading Central Ice Pak who has 15 goals and 15 assists heading into the weekend.
Richards believes the Kings have played some pretty solid hockey at times, but there have been times when they lost focus and ended up on the losing end. It‚Äôs really more about bringing a more consistent effort to the rink, he said, with the team looking like they can do no wrong at times and others it looks the bottom has fallen out of the boat.
‚ÄúWe can‚Äôt turn it on and off like a light switch,‚ÄĚ‚Äąhe said.
Of course, Richards hopes the Kings can be all on the same page this weekend with two games on the schedule for both Friday and Saturday.
‚ÄúMake sure we‚Äôre focused and everybody is prepared because we got to pick up a couple of wins,‚ÄĚ he said.
Richards isn‚Äôt about to put any added pressure on him or his teammates, but he senses an urgency for everybody to come with a good atttitude and more prepared than ever to win a lot of the battles with a gruelling schedule awaiting.
‚ÄúI think it‚Äôs been pretty good, but there‚Äôs always room for improvement,‚ÄĚ he said of his position in the scoring race.‚ÄúI‚Äąneed to step it up a bit and work a little bit harder on some little things and shoot the puck more.‚ÄĚ
He feels the Kings have become a closer group over the past few months with the guys hanging out and spending time training at the gym. He knows the importance of having a cohesive group having been along the incredible ride to the championship only a year ago.
He likes what he‚Äôs seeing and expects it to help down the stretch as the games get bigger and bigger.
‚ÄúI think we‚Äôre going to be more focused and prepared to play,‚ÄĚ‚Äąhe said.