Kings eliminated from post season

The Wheatland Kings saw their playoff run come to an abrupt end with their fourth straight loss to the Okotoks Bisons on Feb. 26

Game 4 of the best-of-seven series ended with a score of 7-3 in favour of the Bisons, though Kings head coach Doug Raycroft said he was happy with how hard his team battled until the end.

“We are a little disappointed, but we played better today. It is always tough to lose, but Okotoks is a good team and anytime there was a mistake it was in the back of the net,” said Raycroft. “Today we really battled. I thought we outbattled and outplayed them and this was the first game of the series we out shot them.”

Raycroft added he was very dissatisfied with the calls made by the attending referees throughout the game.

“I think we, a lot of times seemed to be getting on the wrong side of a lot of the calls. I don’t know if that is just from the history of this team or what, but we seem to always be taking a lot of penalties that are pretty soft,” he said. “They don’t seem to be called on the other side and against a team like Okotoks, you can’t do that. They just have too many weapons and they know how to make you pay.”

Summarizing the series overall, Raycroft said he believed the Kings had their best shot during Game 1 of the series, where the score was tight to even all game, and only swung into the Bisons favour within the final minute.

Raycroft described Games 2-3 as being extremely tough and disappointing for the Kings, losing 5-2, and 5-1 respectively.

Over the course of the season, The Kings have been slowly changing their playstyle since Raycroft took over as head coach.

“I think we started to define ourselves as, you know, instead of being an undisciplined team, we were starting to become more disciplined,” he said. “We moved the puck really well, we did have trouble scoring, but we were a much better team towards the end of the year than we were early on. I think a lot of the teams knew that it’s hard to play against us a lot of times.”

Raycroft also attributed many of the team’s struggles to having several players injured at any one time and being unable to muster their full roster to the ice.

Chase Clayton, Jacob Masciangelo, Landon Brassard and Kyle Feick have now retired from the team, as they have aged out of the junior league.

Going into next season, Raycroft said he is looking forward to spending the entire season with the team and continuing to refine the habits the team used since he became coach.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times