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Rookie goaltending duo helping Western Kings pile up wins in undefeated streak

Goaltender Kirklin Young (in far back) listens to the coaches during a break in the action during a Dennis GM Western Kings practice Wednesday night at the Corner Brook Civic Centre.
Goaltender Kirklin Young (in far back) listens to the coaches during a break in the action during a Dennis GM Western Kings practice Wednesday night at the Corner Brook Civic Centre.

Kirklin Young of Deer Lake and Lucas Park of Corner Brook form the goaltending tandem for the undefeated Dennis GM Western Kings of the provincial major midget hockey league.

The pair of rookie goalies are no worse for wear and have remained calm and collected so far this season.

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The duo has led their team a 14-game winning streak to start the season and with that on the line, they are not showing any nerves.

“Obviously, there’s a little bit of pressure because you don’t want to lose,” Park said. “You just want to keep going and never be OK with what you have and want more,” he added.

Both puckstoppers have won seven games each in coach Mark Robinson’s rotation and he apparently feels confident to continue this rotation in the early part of the season.

Young is making his AAA hockey debut in his final year of minor hockey eligibility. He chose to play high school hockey with his buddies on the Elwood Lakers for his first two years of midget eligibility, but this year he decided to see if he could crack the Kings roster so he could play the game at the highest level in his final year.

Players and fans are talking about the great start for the team, but Young isn’t going to get too excited about it all realizing it’s a long season and lots of hockey to be played yet.

“I’m just trying not to focus on it and just worry about stopping the puck and doing my job in the net,” Young said earlier this week.

Park was a big reason why the Western Kings won first place in the provincial AAA bantam league last year so he has played in his fair share of pressure cookers.

“You have to be confident your team is going to play good in front of you and that you’re going to be able to play your best,” he said.
“You just have to focus on making simple plays and try not to do too much because if you do the simple plays then the team can work good together.”

While the puck may stop with them, both guys were quick to credit the guys for playing solid hockey in front of them.

Park hasn’t had to face a lot of quality scoring chances because he has enjoyed watching guys play hard on the puck in their own end and have sacrificed their bodies by blocking a lot of shots.

“When you’re in net you don’t even have to worry about if there’s going to be a lot of shots, and even if there are shots, they probably aren’t going to be great scoring chances because the defence and forwards are so good,” Park said.

From his vantage point in the crease, Young likes the chemistry the team is showing with everybody working together, but the thing he’s noticed most is the speed they play the game at on a regular basis.

“We are faster than everybody else,” Young said.
“We’re beating them to the puck, and we’re getting a lot of breakaways and odd-man rushes.”

The Kings hope to extend the streak when they host the St. John’s Maple Leafs in a two-game series — Saturday 7 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. — both at the Corner Brook Civic Centre.

Crease crunching

Kirklin Young

Deer Lake

7-0 record

1.57 Goals Against Average

.930 Save Percentage

Shutouts (1)

Lucas Park

Corner Brook

7-0 record

1.86 Goals Against Average

.920 Save Percentage

Shutouts (0)

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