The South Shore Kings are in the midst of the fight for first in the Eastern Conference of the Empire Junior Hockey League.
â€œAt [14-2-0-1], I canâ€™t really complain. In the same manner, I donâ€™t want our guys to get too complacent,â€ said Kings head coach John Gurskis. â€œWeâ€™re only a month into the season and we have yet to hit the toughest part of our schedule.â€
The key to the Kingsâ€™ success is the teamâ€™s depth. With a run of four wins in a row in the first two weeks of November, the Kings used this depth to pull into first place overall in the Eastern Conference. The New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs and Boston Junior Bruins were each one point behind as of Nov. 10.
â€œWeâ€™ve rolled four lines, we havenâ€™t relied on a few offensive guys. I just let the guys have their ice time and get their feet wet,â€ said Gurskis. â€œIn goal, Iâ€™ve flip-flopped two guys. I let them both have their fair share of games. They havenâ€™t given me any reason to deviate from that system.â€
The Kings are a young team, with six 1995-born players, seven â€˜96â€™s and one â€™97.
â€œEven for a few of my â€˜95â€™s, this is their first go-around with junior hockey,â€ said Gurskis. â€œThey all had pretty good seasons last year with their high school teams. Itâ€™s very important they get off to a fast start and gain some confidence.â€
Daniel Clifford, a â€™93 from Bradenton, Fla., led the team at 31 points in 16 games, while fellow â€™93 Evan Jacques was right behind at 30 in 17.
â€œDaniel already had a year of junior hockey under his belt. I expected him to come in and have a good start and a good season. Heâ€™s met my expectations,â€ said Gurskis. â€œThe older guys are an extension of the coaching staff. Theyâ€™ve played under me for a season, so they know what to expect. As long as they execute, the younger guys will follow.â€