Pre-season hockey is always more about the learning process than it is about wins and losses, but perhaps even more so than usual this season for the Kingston Frontenacs. With a new head coach behind the bench in Kurtis Foster, and a roster containing seven new full-time players, there are plenty of teaching scenarios that will show up throughout the early parts of the season. The Frontenacs will add Evan Brand and Luke Drewitt as full-time players this season. They also add new players Ian Derungs, Jake Murray, Kallaway Mercer, Zayde Wisdom and Ryan Dugas. Sunday’s exhibition opener provided the first opportunity to see how these players would mesh with the returning players from the 2017-18 season.
The opening period had a decent pace for the first game situation of the season for the Frontenacs. Kingston scored the first two goals of the game. Matt Hotchkiss opened the scoring with a shot from the high slot that beat Will Cranley. The 2018 Import Draft pick, Ian Derungs of Switzerland, extended the Kingston lead to 2-0 with a beautiful wrap around goal. Sasha Chmelevski put up the first goal for Ottawa with less than a second left on the clock to cut the Kingston lead in half.
The second period was a blank sheet when it came to scoring, but Kingston fans saw a few plays to get excited about. Brendan Bonello had a stretch of play where he made multiple desperation saves to keep the Kingston lead intact. Later in the period, Kingston’s 1st round pick from the 2018 draft, Jake Murray, found himself as the lone man defensively facing a two-on-one rush. He positioned himself perfectly and limited the chance to a simple shot that was easy for Bonello to handle.
Ottawa came out firing in the final period. Chmelevski tied the game on the power play at 7:46. Kody Clark gave the 67’s the lead less than a minute later with his first of the game. Kingston had a late power play opportunity and decided to pull Bonello in favor of the extra attacker to make it a 6-on-4 advantage. After Ottawa had cleared the puck down the ice, Kody Clark won the race against Jakob Brahaney and tucked in his second of the game to seal the 4-2 win for Ottawa.
With a large group of new roster players, the Frontenacs were able to hold their own against what is likely to be a strong Ottawa 67’s team in this upcoming season. There were bright spots all over the ice for Kingston, but still things that need to be addressed before the pre-season ends.
The Frontenacs and 67’s will play a rematch tomorrow in Cornwall. Kingston will then head to Peterborough on September 13th to conclude their pre-season schedule.
The Kingston Frontenacs open their home portion of the regular season on Friday, September 21st at 7 PM against the Oshawa Generals. Tickets for that, and all other regular season games are available now at Leon’s Centre box office, or online at ticketmaster.ca.