Needing to get back on track, the MQT Royales went on the road and swept the St. Louis Frontenacs in three games last weekend, 7-2, 10-3 and 7-5.
"I feel for the first time in quite some time, our team looked hungry," said Head Coach Mike Stanaway.
"We can’t continue to win unless we know how bitter the feeling losing can be," Stanaway said. "Winning came so easy to our team early on that it was a good lesson for our club to learn that we must play consistently at a high level and be hungry to win."
During the losing streak, Minnesota Junior Hockey League-leading points scorer Lane King was promoted to the Brookings (S.D.) Blizzard of the NAHL. He played three games for the Blizzard, recording one assist, +1 rating and two shots. King returned to the Royales in a big way with 16 points on seven goals and nine assists in the three-game series. He also recorded a hat trick in Saturday's rout of the Frontenacs.
According to Stanaway, the decision to stay with the Royales was King's.
"Lane decided he wanted to finish what he started with his teammates in Marquette and made the choice to come back to the Royales and help us toward our goal of bringing a Championship to Marquette," Stanaway said.
With the sweep, MQT sits at 30-7 for 60 points and the Great Lakes Division lead. Central Wisconsin sits in second with 48 points. Illiana currently sits in fourth with 45 points, but has five more games left to play compared to the top three teams in the division.
Despite the losing streak, the Royales are staying aware of Minnesota Division leaders Wisconsin Dells Ducks and Maple Grove (Minn.) Energy. According to league rules, the team with the most points regardless of division will hold home-ice advantage for the league championship. The two teams are tied at 57 points, but the Ducks have three games more on their schedule to make up their three-point deficit.
The Royales’ front-loaded schedule continues to harm the team as MQT stays on the road and travel to Ohio to face Wooster for a three-game series. The Oilers scored the most goals of any opponent in a three-game series in MQT this season.
"They are in a desperate push to try and get home ice advantage in the first round," Stanaway said. "Wooster will be a big test for us."
MQT will end their 15-game road trip with a three-game series in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin on February 14-16. The Royales will end their regular season with a home series against the Tri-City (Mich.) IceHawks on February 21-23.
Brice Burge is the Managing Editor of MQT Social Scene. He can be reached at briceMQT@gmail.com.