Pictured is Kingston Frontenacs' defenseman, Warren Steele who was named the first star in Kingston's 3-1 victory over the Windsor Spitfires. It was Kingston's first win since January 6th.
The weekend started early for the Frontenacs, with a big game in Mississauga against the team that is just ahead of them in the Eastern Conference standings. Entering the game on Wednesday night, Kingston was only 3 points behind the struggling Steelheads, who were in 7th place. This was obviously a big game for coach Gill and the young Fronts.
Coach Gill had been preaching playing with discipline, and getting pucks deep to put pressure on opposing defensemen. None of these things translated onto the ice, on Wednesday night.
As has been the case in many of the games, during the 11 game losing streak, Kingston scored first. Veteran, Darcy Greenaway opened the scoring at 9:10 of the 1st, his team leading, 22nd of the year. Kingston was lucky to escape the first period up 1-0, as they took 5 minor penalties. Their penalty killing, ranked 19th in the 20 team league held the fort, along with goalie, Mike Morrison. The Steelheads had outshot Kingston 10-5 in the first. Most certainly, coach Gill's message in the first intermission would have been to stay out of the box the rest of the way.
Unfortunately, the message didn't sink in for Kingston. Mississauga connected on 2 straight powerplays in the 2nd, and another in the 3rd to take a 3-1 lead. Kristoff Kontos and Dylan DiMelo scored in the second, and Dylan Smoskowitz in the 3rd. The Steelheads outshot Kingston 13-5 in the 2nd, and 37-17 overall. Kontos scored into an empty net, to make the final score 4-1 Steelheads. Mississauga's powerplay was 3 for 10 on the night. If not for Morrison, this game could have been a blowout.
Kingston was to host their arch rivals from Belleville on Friday night, but Mother Nature intervened with the biggest snowstorm of the season. No make-up date has been announced yet.
The Fronts welcomed the road weary, Windsor Spitfires to K-Rock on Sunday afternoon. Windsor started their eastern road trip with a 9-4 win in Peterborough, on Thursday night. They were to travel to Ottawa on Friday to battle the 67s on Friday evening. While they were on the bus, the Spitfires learned that their game had been postponed. Fortunately both teams had Saturday night free and the Senators played in the afternoon at Scotiabank Place. On Saturday night, the 67s defeated the Spitfires 8-5.
In the lineup for the Spitfires was Gananoque native, and former Kingston Minor Midget defenseman, Graeme Brown. Brown was a third round pick of Windsor, and has been playing this year for the Jr B LaSalle Vipers.
Windsor's highly rated, draft eligible player, Kerby Rychel opened the scoring for the Spits 10 seconds past the mid way point of the first period, with his 32nd goal of the season. The assist went to Alexander Khokhalchev. It was just their second shot on goal in the game, so Fronts' fans must have been thinking - here we go again! The difference between this goal and some others of late is that Mike Morrison had no chance on it, as Koko fed a perfect pass across the ice to a wide open, Rychel, who only had to tap it in. The shots were 10-2 at that point in the game.
Rather than sag, the Fronts kept playing hard and tied the game up on a 2 on 1. Slater Doggett ripped one over Windsor starter's Jaroslav Pavelka's shoulder at 15:06 of the 1st. Doggett's 3rd goal of the season was assisted by Sam Povorozniouk. The first period ended, tied at 1. Much to Coach Gill's delight, no doubt, the first period was free of penalties.
The 2nd period started with a spirited scrap between Ryan Hutchinson and John Bowen. Everyone in the rink saw this one coming off the opening faceoff. The result was 5 minute majors and game misconducts for each defenseman, as the refs determined that this was a "staged fight". Windsor had dressed 7 defenseman, so it was a bit more of a challenge for Kingston's coaches, as they were left with 5 D men the rest of the game. The rest of the period was a "snoosefest" as neither team generated much offensively, and there was very little flow or intensity. The period ended tied at one.
Warren Steele intercepted a Spitfire pass at centre ice, and lead a 4 on 1 break into their zone early in the 3rd. He was given a clear lane to the net and ripped one past goaltender Jaroslav Pavelka to make it 2-1 at 1:26. Goaltender, Mike Morrison would later call it a "selfish play" in jest, as Steele didn't pass the puck on a 4 on 1. Such "jesting" hasn't been evident in Kingston of late. Coach Gill was pleased that Steele, who earned first star honours in the win, displayed an offensive flare in this game. Undoubtedly, he'd like to see more of this from his rearguard.
The two teams each took 3 minor penalties, resulting in powerplays in the third period, but none of them would end up costing their team. Billy Jenkins scored at 9:12 of the 3rd, after a nice pass from Sam Schutt on a Fronts' 3 on 2 break. Kingston was taking advantage of a tired Windsor team, as they were now winning most races to loose pucks. Mike Morrison was solid in the Fronts' net, as well, in the 3rd. He "held the fort" as the Spitfires had a lengthy 5 on 3 near the end of the period. As the final buzzer sounded, Kingston had ended their 12 game losing skid, much to the delight of the 3351 fans assembled.
Kingston has a major test in Belleville on Wednesday night, before travelling to Sudbury for Friday night, Sault Ste Marie on Saturday night, then Mississauga on Family Day, Monday, in the afternoon. Kingston is on the road, as the Scotties Tournament of Hearts has taken over the K-Rock Centre. The Fronts really need to start putting points in the standings, as the Petes are "breathing down their necks" and playing good hockey right now.