Frog Lake has put the Killam Wheat Kings in an all-or-nothing situation in the second round of the NEAJBHL 2018 playoffs. The T-Birds and the Wheat Kings each won a game in Killam, but Frog Lake won both their home games to give themselves a huge 3-1 series advantage.
On Monday night, Frog Lake owned the game from start to finish. They began the first period on a power play due to Killam not evacuating the ice fast enough after warm up. Frog Lake scored on the power play, giving them an early lead and setting the tone for the rest of the night.
“That was a nice start to the game for us,” T-Birds coach Harvey Smyl said. “We were able to start the night on our terms, and capitalizing on a power play right at the beginning helped us settle in and play smart and play hard.”
The T-Birds scored three goals in the first period before Killam got one of their own on the power play just before the opening frame expired. The second period saw both teams swapping goals back and forth before Frog Lake shut down Killam in the third period, leading to an 8-4 final.
“Our goaltending was really good—excellent, really—and [Justin] Fedoruk really has been great all year,” Smyl said. “[Killam] was really good on the forecheck and maintained a lot of pressure. But because they were actually so strong in that area, it allowed us to get a couple of odd-man rushes and our execution was very good when it needed to be. We got up on them early, then went back and forth for a bit. Things opened up for us pretty good in the third and everything went our way.”
A Chance to Advance
Frog Lake has worked to put themselves in great position heading back to Killam for game five. The Wheat Kings’ backs are against the wall, and Frog Lake needs to win just one game to advance to the finals while Killam now needs to win three straight. The Wheat Kings finished the regular season in second place with a 25-10-1 record compared to the T-Birds’ 21-13-2 fourth-place finish, but you wouldn’t know it watching this series. Frog Lake has been a dominant force and will be looking to close out the series as soon as possible, but it won’t be easy against a cornered Killam team that is known for getting under the skin of their opponents.
“Killam’s building is one of the most difficult places to win in the league,” Smyl said. “Our mindset is going to be just like it’s been all post-season; trying to play good defensive hockey, supporting each other, and having good discipline. They play a physical brand and they’ve got a big team. They’ve done great recruiting to bring in players that suit the team very well. We don’t want to get caught up in any sideshow stuff. It’s strictly just about playing and just about hockey. We want to make sure that we’re not giving them opportunities to win from us being undisciplined.”
Game five takes place in Killam on Wednesday night at 8:30. If Killam wins and forces another game, then game six will be back in Frog Lake on Friday at 8:00. The winner of the Frog Lake/Killam series will go on to play the winner of the Wainwright/Cold Lake series in the finals.