Bright spots were few and far between for the Kindersley Klippers on their weekend road trip.
The SJHL club lost games in Weyburn and Estevan, including a 6-0 shellacking against the Bruins on Saturday, and they lost a veteran in the process.
Defenceman Justin Perreaux, 20, has left the team after an apparent confrontation with head coach Larry Wintoneak after Friday’s game against the Red Wings.
“It came to a head in Weyburn at the end of the game. We had a discussion and you could see we weren’t focused the next night,” Wintoneak said on Monday.
“We addressed it, it’s over with, we move on. One player left the team because of it ... (Perreaux) came in the office and said it was time for him to part ways.”
Despite the abrupt departure, Wintoneak said he has no hard feelings toward Perreaux and wishes him well.
The team was attempting to trade the blueliner outside the league as of Monday, possibly closer to his home in Brandon.
Wintoneak said he wasn’t satisfied with Perreaux’s play this season as one of the few 20-year-olds on the team, and it’s a valid criticism. Perreaux had shown little to no improvement in his own end and untimely giveaways and penalties had hurt the team on several occasions.
“He’s got some experience, but has he played like a 20-year-old? Has he been a top guy? To be honest with you, no, he hasn’t,” said the coach. “He was in our top four, yeah, but it’ll give an opportunity for someone else to step up.”
Sean Flanagan will likely assume Perreaux’s role on a pairing with Steven Turner.
The incident may have stemmed in part from Weyburn’s third goal in the 4-2 win on Friday, scored by Shawn Cowie, which came with 2:24 remaining and stood up as the winner. Three 20-year-olds - Perreaux, Turner and Jordan Braid - were on the ice at the time.
“We put that onus (to be top players and leaders) on our 20-year-olds and we had three on the ice when Weyburn scored that goal,” Wintoneak said. “We were disappointed in how that goal was scored.”
Perreaux could not be reached for comment.
Taylor Duzan and Kevin Clark had scored in the second period to erase a 2-0 deficit on goals by Weyburn’s Tyler Penny and Rhett Bly in the opening frame.
Brennan Wrigley scored an empty-netter with 10 seconds left to put it away for the Wings.
The Klippers were outshot 35-22 on the night.
Newly acquired forward Tanner Exner did not play after injuring his shoulder and will miss at least a week of action.
Wintoneak said the ending to Friday’s game and the Perreaux situation affected team morale in Estevan the next night.
One spectator called it “one of the poorest efforts of a Klipper team in years.”
The Bruins scored twice in each period. Tyler Spencer netted two goals and Kyle Johnson, Chad Filteau, Ty Ariss and Jeremy Peeke also scored.
Despite the lopsided score, the shots were close with a 33-30 edge to Estevan. Ryan Benn was a healthy scratch.
The Klippers (16-12-1-2) have been overtaken by the Notre Dame Hounds for second place in the Sherwood Conference. The Hounds are two points ahead with two games in hand.
Kindersley heads back on the road this week, playing last night in Nipawin and tonight in La Ronge. They return home on Saturday for another tilt against Weyburn. Game time is 7 p.m.
“There’s a lot of ups and downs in junior hockey and we’re going through tough times right now,” said Wintoneak.
“I think we’ll see a different hockey team over the next three games. I’d probably guarantee it.”