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Goldie returns as Salmon Kings host Aces

Victoria Salmon Kings center Milan Gajic said today’s return of former captain Wes Goldie isn’t as big a deal for the team as it is for fans and media.

“We (the players) went through it in Alaska already this season.”

Assistant coach Ryan Wade agreed. “Just another game against Alaska, a division rival who we always take seriously.”

The Salmon Kings host the Aces for three games, beginning with 7:05 p.m. tonight (Feb. 2), Friday and Saturday.

Anyone who has followed the Kings’ tough season knows Goldie’s offence hasn’t been replaced.

Through 45 games the Kings are on pace to score 201 goals this year (averaging 2.8 per game), down from 230 (3.2 pg) last season. Matt Siddall’s 18 goals leads the Kings.

Goldie was stripped of his captaincy last summer and chose to leave for Alaska. His return could be a historic one in the record books.

Goldie's next goal puts him into a tie for fifth all time with 316 ECHL goals, tied with Sheldon Gorski (retired).

But the Salmon Kings team Goldie captained is no more.

At the start of this season, the Salmon Kings’ brass of general manager and coach Mark Morrison and president Dave Dakers said they felt a team builds better chemistry when they stick up for themselves.

Morrison said last year’s team didn’t have each other’s backs on the ice and were missing that bond in the dressing room. He hoped tougher additions such as Jim Vandermeer, Matt Stefanishion, Kiel McLeod and Derek Couture would help.

Vandermeer, the captain, has been active in the fighting department but also sustained an eight-game suspension in the fall and he’s been a healthy scratch numerous times. Stefanishion leads the team in penalty minutes with 120.

McLeod and Couture have been out since suffering injuries in mid-November, finally returning to the lineup for Saturday’s 4-2 loss against the Las Vegas Wranglers.

“One guy doesn’t change the way we play, or make a hockey team,” Couture said.

Despite the Kings’ home record of 7-13-2, and overall record of 18-24-3, Couture believes the team is tough and talented, built for a legitimate push in the Kelly Cup playoffs.

“Put it this way: I wouldn’t want to play us in a seven-game series.”