BERWICK, NS - It was a highly competitive, teeter-totter Valley High School Hockey League battle that took overtime to settle.
The Central Kings (CK) Gators hosted the West Kings (WK) Wolverines at the Kings Mutual Century Centre “Apple Dome” in Berwick on Jan. 13. CK came out on top with a final score of 6 to 5. Zachary Forsythe scored the winning goal with 2:07 left on the clock in a five-minute overtime period.
Following the game, Gators head coach Mike Ouelette said they always have competitive games against the Wolverines, a team with great players and coaches.
He agreed that the game turned out to be a real nail-biter, although he said it shouldn’t have been considering that they were up 5 to 3 at one point. He said they have to learn to take care of their defensive zone.
Ouelette said they have to do a better job avoiding penalties and, when they are incurred, a better job killing them.
“We pay for sure when we’ve got a guy in the box, there’s no question,” he said.
Although CK’s Forsythe scored a short-handed goal in the third, it was answered by two power-play goals by WK, tying the score and sending the game into overtime. The Gators were outshooting the Wolverines well into the third period.
“We took our foot off the gas and let them come back into the game and by the end of the game they had outshot us,” Ouelette said. “We’ve got to learn to keep the pressure on. Our success comes from an aggressive forecheck and when we’re not forechecking, that’s when we start to get in trouble.”
He said it would be CK or WK that finishes at the top of the central division and goes on to the league final. Ouelette said they have a great team going into regional qualifiers and he believes they have a good chance to make it to provincials.
“We’re a talented team, we just have to play three periods of hockey,” he said.
Wolverines head coach Clarke Oliver said WK didn’t have a great second period. They didn’t forecheck hard and the Gators overworked them. Oliver said the third period and overtime were back and forth. It was a great game that “could have gone either way.”
Oliver said he is pleased overall with the Wolverines’ performance. They’re “a great group of kids” that work hard in every practice and every game.
He said WK has a great rivalry with CK that dates back long before his time with the Wolverines and the two teams are battling it out for the top of the division, which also includes Digby and Middleton.
Oliver said the Wolverines struggle a bit with consistency but that’s the plight of every hockey team. He said WK is a positive team and if mistakes are made, the players work hard to bounce back and make up for them.
He said there’s been a lot of back and forth in the league this season, just as there was in the Jan. 13 encounter with the Gators. It’s anybody’s game at this point. He said whoever works hardest and wins the small battles would win the upcoming tournament at NKEC.
WK drew first blood at 5:47 in the first period but CK quickly tied it up at the 7:53 mark, scored a second goal at 8:55 and a third at 16:52.
WK opened the scoring in the second period with its second goal of the night at 5:13. CK scored a fourth at the 11:21 mark.
Heading into the third period, WK scored its third goal at 4:26 while CK scored its fifth, a short-handed goal, at 9:39. WK then scored twice on the power play, a fourth goal at 10:16 and a fifth at 11:34, tying things up and sending the game into five minutes of overtime.
CK scored the winning goal at the 2:53 mark.
In spite of the final score, shots on goal during the first three periods seemed to illustrate that the Wolverines were building offensive momentum over the course of the game.
CK had 14 in the first period, compared to WK’s 7. By the end of the second period, it was 24 shots on goal for CK opposed to WK’s 22. Both teams were tied with 26 each with 13 minutes left in the third period. By the end of the third period, with the score tied, WK had 36 shots on goal, compared to CK’s 31.