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Shattered season still enough to advance Kings players 

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Scoring 35 goals in just six games was bound to draw some attention to a team, even if it allowed 38 in that same span. 

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A severely stunted six-game season last fall didn’t stop a quartet of players from the Sherwood Park Kings Athletic Club’s flagship U-18 AAA squad from landing on with Junior A franchises, with one even getting an early audition this spring with his hometown team in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. 

Two others have committed to teams in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, which didn’t resume play this spring amid COVID concerns. 

It will be a homecoming of sorts for Kings forward Tyler Kutschinski in the fall when he is expected to make his debut with the Humboldt Broncos, as he has family ties to that community. 

Like everyone on the Kings, Kutschinski had hoped for more than just a six-game schedule in the fall, but the pandemic had other plans. 

“It wasn’t the best, only being able to play six games in my last year of Midget,” he said. “It was pretty disappointing, but we had a good group of guys and the six games were pretty fun. We had a lot of goals for and even more against. I was hoping we would get a full year in there so that I could hopefully put up a lot of points and get my name out there a little more.” 

He got his name out there enough, finishing third in Alberta Elite Hockey League (AEHL) U-18 AAA scoring with six goals and 13 points in those six games, catching the eye of the Broncos. 

“(Humboldt) reached out to me and I felt it was a really good opportunity,” Kutschinski said. “They have a really great coach and my grandpa used to live there, so I wanted to play there for him. There could be a bit more pressure playing for them with all that has happened there, (the 2018 bus crash that claimed the lives of 16 Broncos players and staff) but I have heard nothing but great things about the community. I really want to play there to honour my grandpa. I am very pumped for the fall and getting a chance to play again.” 

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The Broncos are confident they made a strong signing in bringing in the Sherwood standout. 

“The Broncos coaching staff describes Tyler as an intelligent player who goes to the hard areas of the ice with skill and tenacity,” stated a team release. “He draws penalties and frustrates opponents while also playing a solid 200-foot game without the puck.” 

Kings coach Travis Clayton is also a fan of Kutschinski’s attitude. 

“He has talent, but his work ethic is also really strong,” he said. “When he got sent down by the Crusaders back to the U-18s, his work ethic from day one was outstanding. He was first on the ice and the last off of it. I think that led to him having such a strong showing in our short season. 

“It’s a great opportunity in a great league. When someone wants you, you want to go there. Humboldt expressed a lot of interest in him and they are getting a great kid and a good hockey player. Junior teams haven’t had a lot of chances to see kids play at this level for a while now, so when a team is eager to have you, that’s a really good thing.” 

Thomas Moore (right) signed with the SJHL’s Melfort Mustangs. Photo Supplied
Thomas Moore (right) signed with the SJHL’s Melfort Mustangs. Photo Supplied

Also heading out east by signing in the SJHL was Kings forward Thomas Moore, who committed to the Melfort Mustangs after notching a pair of points in two games this past shortened season. 

“Thomas is a great all-around player who plays the game with a high motor.” Mustangs head coach and GM Trevor Blevins said. “His high compete level and dedication will be an instant fit in our lineup.” 

“He has dealt with a lot of adversity with several injuries,” coach Clayton added about Moore. “He didn’t play a full year in 2019-2020 and he got banged up at the beginning of the year with us. His hard work has paid off. Melfort is a great organization that has been at the top of the SJHL for quite some time. He’s going to a good program. I am super happy for him.” 

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Zac Maxwell (right, receiving the Kings’ MVP award last week) is committed to the Sherwood Park Crusaders. Photo Supplied
Zac Maxwell (right, receiving the Kings’ MVP award last week) is committed to the Sherwood Park Crusaders. Photo Supplied

Given a fair bit of attention in this paper when the news broke in February, local product Zac Maxwell opted to stay in town by signing with the Sherwood Park Crusaders. 

After leading the AEHL with 16 points in the six games, Maxwell (who was named Kings MVP last week) moved up to the Cru this spring for a three-game early audition. 

Also signing in the AJHL was Kings forward Matthew Langdon, who will join the Drayton Valley Thunder. 

“Matthew brings a very nice scoring touch and his offensive upside only makes our team better,” said Thunder coach Eric Thurston. “Matthews’ work ethic and his character will fit into our team nicely and we look forward to seeing Matthew in a Thunder jersey next season.” 

In addition to the four Kings players who signed on at the Junior A level, two others were able to make their Western Hockey League debuts this spring as well. 

Ardrossan native Evan Waldie suited up in nine games as a centre with the Winnipeg Ice, while fellow forward and Park product Tanner Scott dressed in 20 games for the Victoria Royals. 

sjones@postmedia.com 

twitter.com/Realshanejones 

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