Sports

Kings win exhibition series opener

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer

Sean Chase/Daily Observer 
Lumber Kings goalie Nick Manousos (left) turns away a shot during second period action at the Pembroke and Area Community Centre Sunday night.

Sean Chase/Daily Observer Lumber Kings goalie Nick Manousos (left) turns away a shot during second period action at the Pembroke and Area Community Centre Sunday night.

 

The Pembroke Lumber Kings launched into the Central Canada Hockey League pre-season on a high note Sunday night defeating the Nepean Raiders 3-2.

More than 150 people packed the Pembroke and Area Community Centre (PACC) to cheer on the red-and-white, a sign that the city not only wholeheartedly backs their team but is eager for the 2017-18 season to get underway.

While they did record a win, head coach Dale McTavish said his players gave up too many shots and lost too many face-offs. As the squad was a mixture of veterans, novice Kings, as well as members from the newly founded Whitewater Kings, the coaching staff understood there was going to be some nervous players out there.

“You not getting the best version of them right now,” he said. “This is to grow as a team and gain experience. It's nice to get a win and get on the right track.”

Leading the offence was sophomore winger James Buckley, who scored the hat trick. Peter Falivena recorded three assists, while Brendan Browne jumped in on assisting two goals. Goalie Jake Smith picked up the win turning away 18 shots on goal. Back-up Nick Manousos also spent some time between the pipes turning away 22 of 24 shots on goal.

Buckley opened up the scoring at the 8:51 point of the first period, aided by Falivena and Jarrad Vroman. Seven minutes later, the Raiders responded with a tying goal from Kari Belec, assisted by Jordan Renaud and Bailey Brant.

Early in the second period, Nepean tied things with a shot from Malcolm Arseneau. Picking up the helpers were Olivier Gauthier and Brant. However, Buckley came back to surprise Nepean netminder Kyle Alaverdy on his right glove side flipping the puck over the blocker. Browne and Falivena registered the assists.

Buckley then secured the win firing the puck through traffic at Nepean back-up Matthew Chan, who began his shift in the nets. Browne and Falivena again supported the goal. There was no scoring in the third period.

Neither team scored on the powerplay. Pembroke spent 14 minutes in the penalty box, while Nepean racked up eight penalty minutes. Buckley conceded later that he felt his team came out the gates a little slow but really picked up the pace in the closing period.

“I found I had a little more confidence having a year under my belt,” added Buckley. “I felt I had a lot more patience with the puck.”

While the exhibition series of games provides a dress rehearsal for the Kings in advance of the regular season, McTavish said having Whitewater players on the ice gives them invaluable Junior 'A' experience and gives them the incentive to push for a spot in the future. He also appreciated the large turnout in the stands.

“The crowds here are great and they support the team so well,” the coach added. “This is more than some teams get in the regular season.”

The Kings next visit Nepean on Wednesday before returning to the PACC Thursday to host the Smiths Falls Bears (game time is 7 p.m.). They return to the road on Saturday visiting Carleton Place. The Kings then host the Canadians on Sunday back at the PACC. Game time is 7 p.m.

Three Stars: Star #1 James Buckley (Pembroke), Star #2 Peter Falivena (Pembroke), Star #3 Malcolm Arseneau (Nepean).

SChase@postmedia.com