Kings squeak into playoffs
It took a dramatic last-second goal in overtime and some help from another team, but, for the second straight year, Orillia's Experience Nissan Kings have qualified for the post-season.
The Kings wrapped up their regular season Sunday afternoon with a heart-stopping 13-13 overtime draw in Brampton. That point, coupled with a loss by the Mississauga Tomahawks, allowed the Kings to finish in a tie with Mississauga for the final playoff spot in the Ontario Lacrosse Association Jr. B loop.
"We needed a tie to move on," said Kings president Joel Campbell, who said the chippy afternoon game led to some head-scratching penalties that handcuffed the Kings as they tried to scratch out a victory. In the end, however, the determined Kings would not let their destiny be determined by others.
Veteran Matthew Campbell scored a last-minute goal in the third to force overtime, a full 10-minute period. Brampton scored midway through the extra frame and the Kings had multiple chances to knot the score but hit the post or missed Grade A opportunities, while Orillia netminder Dylan O'Rourke refused to allow another goal.
"We just couldn't buy a goal," lamented Campbell. "But with 10 seconds left, we had the ball and (Tyler Goodchild) took a final shot that managed to make its way by the goalie, giving us the playoff spot."
While Goodchild's goal lifted the team into the playoffs, it was a tour-de-force performance from Matthew Campbell that gave the Kings a chance to punch their playoff ticket. The veteran forward, in his final year of junior lacrosse, tallied six goals and set up three others to pace the Kings' attack. Trent Boyd had a hat trick for the victors, while Goodchild potted a pair and singles were netted by Tyler Conn and David Wilkie.
The Kings would not have had anything to play for Sunday if they hadn't scored an 11-6 win over the hapless Newmarket Saints (0-20) Saturday night at Rotary Place. In that game, Campbell had four goals, while Conn and Goodchild each had a pair. Chris McLaughlin, Owen King and Teagan Meredith had single markers, while Cam Murphy picked up the win between the pipes.
The Kings, who stumbled down the stretch, finish the season with a 9-10-1 record and will likely meet the Akwesasne Indians (15-5) in the first round of the playoffs, which are expected to start next weekend. Details have not yet been confirmed.
KINGS THINGS: Matthew Campbell finished sixth overall in the 25-team league's scoring race. Campbell netted 52 goals and added 41 assists in 19 games - his 93 points made him the only King in the top 25 in league scoring. Among the league's top defencemen, Orillia's Michael Greco finished in a three-way tie for sixth place with 17 points in 17 games. The Kings scored 40 power-play goals in 20 games - their 36.36% efficiency was third best in the league. However, 12 other teams had better penalty-killing proficiency than Orillia.