Wheatland Kings led by new coach Doug Raycroft

The Wheatland Kings have brought on Doug Raycroft to take over as their head coach for the remainder of this season.

Raycroft took over the mantle from his predecessor, Ron West, following an eight-game losing streak for the Kings.

The Wheatland Kings squared off against the Okotoks Bisons for Raycroft’s inaugural game, Oct. 29, ultimately losing the match, 2-0, though keeping pace with the overall shot count, 31-30.

“We were playing the best team in the league, so we knew we were going to have a challenge ahead of us. The boys played really hard, we played as a team, and we easily could have scored a few goals,” said Raycroft. “When you are playing a good team like that, it’s tough. We have had quite a losing streak before I started, but you have got to do things right to get the results that you need … play good in your own end and play as a team. We did all those things today and we could easily beat this team.”

Stepping in as head coach for the Kings, Raycroft explained he has a vision for working with the team, and is already planning what he wants to work on with them to see overall improvement.

“I think I think we got a good young crew and there is no reason why we can’t get better every game and turn this thing around,” he said. “We have the potential to play a really strong game. I think if we play the physical teams in the league, we can be just as physical as them … and we can skate with any team in the league. We proved that today against Okotoks.”

Raycroft added he wants to see his team tighten up their defense more, work on controlling the puck in their zone, and take less penalties over the course of a game.

Currently standing, the Wheatland Kings are the most penalized team in the junior league. During Saturday’s game, he said he was pleased to see a lack of undisciplined penalties, rather, keeping the infractions to aggressive penalties.

Raycroft said team morale has been low lately, given the lack of success in the arena, though following the game against Okotoks, the team’s spirits picked up.

“They know they played good today. They know they played a good hockey team and they played well,” he said. “Morale is a bit higher and we are looking forward to tomorrow.”

The Wheatland Kings ended their nine-game losing streak, taking a win against the Coaldale Copperheads on Oct. 30, 6-2 at the Strathmore Arena.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times