DEER LAKE The Western Royals will need to tighten up in their own end with scoring leader Rob Hennigar staring them down this weekend.
Hennigar is expeced to lead the charge when the league-leading Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts tangle with the Royals in a Newfoundland Senior Hockey League home-and-home series.
An import pivot in his first year of senior hockey in the province, Hennigar is a big reason why the Cataracts catapulted to the top of the standings with a 12-2 record before the Christmas break.
The star pivot has collected four goals and 5 assists for 29 points in just 14 games, which puts him seven points ahead of two challengers â€” defending scoring champion and teammate Andre Gill and CeeBee Stars forward Jordan Escott who both have collected 22 points in 14 games.
The Royals had a rough time against the Gander Flyers in a 6-2 loss at home to ring in 2014 so winning the East for a shot at the Herder could prove to be an interesting ride.
Tied for third spot overall with the Mount Pearl Blades with 16 points apiece, the Royals will need stellar goaltending from import Bryan Gillis to achieve success against the high-octane Cats.
Gillis looked human against the Flyers, giving up five goals before being yanked from the crease in favour of Brad Dyke, who made a number of big saves to keep his team close and only allowed one goal the rest of the way in a game where both teams seemed content to play out the clock in the later stages of the game with the home team staring down a big deficit.
The Royals will clash with the Cats 7:30 Saturday at the Hodder Memorial Recreation Complex before the two teams exchange holiday greetings in central Sunday 2 p.m. at Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium.
The Mount Pearl Hâ€ˆJ Bartlett Electric Blades will tangle with the Clarenville Caribous in a two-game series at the Clarenville Events Centre, while the CeeBee Stars will host the Flyers for two games at the S. W. Moores Memorial Stadium in Harbour Grace.