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Kings set to begin junior lacrosse season

May 7, 2014

Kingston Kings will open their Ontario Junior C Lacrosse League season Thursday night in Cornwall, as the guests for the home opener of the three-time defending East division champion Celtics.

Game time at the Benson Centre is 8 o’clock.

The Kings are coming off a season when they finished 7-8-1, fifth in the seven-team East division. It represented a two-and-a-half-games improvement from 2012, when they were 5-11, but they were still swept from the playoffs in three straight games for the second year in a row.

Cornwall won the East division championship for the third year in a row in 2013, but for the third year in a row the Celtics were unsuccessful at the league’s Final Four tournament.

Kingston has beaten Cornwall just once in three years, with a combined record of 1-14 in league and playoff games. Kingston’s only victory came on opening night of the 2012 season, a 5-4 win on a night when the Kings scored three unanswered goals in the third period. That’s the only one of the 46 periods the teams have played where the Celtics failed to score.

The Kings, who dropped both their preseason games to Gloucester on the weekend, have never won in Cornwall.

The Kings will be led this year by Josh Smith, a final year player who scored 32 goals and had 52 points in 16 games last year, a season when he tied the team’s single-game goal-scoring record with seven July 10 against Gloucester. Kingston is also looking for productive seasons from Zach Masterson (13 goals, 28 points in 13 games in his first junior season last year) and rookie Cain Brown, who had three goals and two assists in the Kings’ 12-9 preseason loss to Gloucester last Friday. Masterson had seven goals in the two preseason games.

Another interesting element of Thursday’s game will be the return of Brad Lauzon to the Benson Centre, where he played three seasons for the Celtics. Lauzon, a veteran defence player and the son of deposed Celtics coach Shawn Lauzon, was acquired by the Kings on the weekend.

In all, the Kings have lost 12 players from 2013, among them five to graduation (goaltender David Joseph, Kyle Aylesworth, who leaves as the team’s sixth-leading all-time scorer, Danny Smith, Jake Evoy and Ba Maracle); and four who have moved up to junior B (Cole Byvelds in Montreal, Haneh Brant in Akwesasne and Bryce Drew and Michael Latour in Nepean). Lationahele (Glenn) Tarbell is playing this year with Six Nations, one of two new teams in the league.

The Kings have, however, picked up several members of the Kingston Krossfire provincial champion midget team of 2012, including Brown, twin brothers Eric and Liam Brick and Jordan Hughes. The Kings are also welcoming back J.P. DiFilippo, an original King in 2011 who sat out the last two years but has returned for his final season of junior eligibility.

The Kings this year find themselves in a four-team Far East division, with Cornwall, Gloucester and Peterborough. They will play a partial interlocking schedule with teams in the Mid East division — Clarington, Huntsville, Innisfil and Whitby — and the two division winners will meet for the overall East title. The league has abandoned the Final Four championship tournament format in favour of declaring the Meredith Cup champion via a best-of-five final between the East and West division champions.

The Kings will resume play Friday night in Gloucester and they will open their home schedule Thursday, May 15, when they will host Gloucester at 8 p.m.

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