Wild wrap up regional's with convincing 9-1 win

Andrew
Andrew Schopp
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The Notre Dame Argos are off to the 2014 Midget-AAA Western Regional finals after the Thunder Bay Kings finished the tournament winless on Saturday.

As both teams played their final game of the tournament, the Winnipeg Wild scored five unanswered goals in the first period to lift them to a 9-1 triumph over the Kings at the Art Hauser Centre, capturing their only win.

The Kings loss set the stage for an all Saskatchewan final as the championship tilt will pit the host Prince Albert Mintos against the SMAAAHL champion Argos on Sunday with the winner punching their ticket to the 2014 Telus Cup in Moose Jaw.

Although entering the game eliminated from the tournament final, Wild coach Paul Krueger was proud of his team for giving it their all in a rather meaningless game.

"I liked the fact that in a situation like that, you can just mail it in and they didn't," Krueger said. "They came out to play and they played hard so that was nice to see."

Meanwhile for the Kings, Saturday's game had more significance as a win over the Wild would have put them in contention for the a spot in Sunday's final.

Finishing regional's 0-2-1, Kings coach Ian Swalucynski said it was bad starts to all three games that did them in.

"We had a bad start every game and we had an extremely bad start today," Swalucynski said. "Hopefully we  can learn from this that you need to be prepared mentally and physically when you come out, we weren't and unfortunately it showed in the score."

Wild forward Dylan Thiessen got the opening period onslaught going as he ripped a backhand shot through the legs of Kings goalie Bradley Hampton just over six minutes into the frame.

Joel MacGillivray, Mark Taraschuk , Nathan Halvorsen and Zach Court also scored for the Wild in the first period to put the game out of reach early for the Kings.

In his assessment of his team's 1-2-0 finish to the tournament, Krueger shared a sentiment similar to that of his Kings counter-part.

"As the tournament went on we got better," Krueger said. " I thought we just got off to a slow start and that's what really ended up getting us in the end."

Outshooting their opponent by a wide 17-6 margin in the second frame, the Kings struggled to get past Wild backstop Evan Johnson while forward Gianluca Esteves netted a pair of goals to carry a 7-0 lead into the third period.

With the third period being a moot point, Wild forward Dawson Martin and  defenceman Zach Lamothe added insult to injury with a pair of power play goals.

The Kings eventually broke the shutout with less than five minutes to go as forward Hank Bouchard netted his first of the tournament while Johnson cruised to a 36-save win to close out the tournament for his team.

After the Argos take on the Mintos in the final round-robin tilt on Saturday, they will meet again on Sunday for the Western Regional final at the Art Hauser Centre. The puck drops at 2 p.m. 

andrew.schopp@paherald.sk.ca 

Organizations: Kings, Art Hauser Centre, Winnipeg Wild Telus

Geographic location: Notre Dame, Saskatchewan, Moose Jaw

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