Kings have a lot of speed and skill going into season
Head coach Trevor Keeper has been working all summer to put together the 2013-14 edition of the RDC Kings, who return to the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference Men’s Hockey League after close to 10 years on the sidelines.
Keeper could hardly wait to see what all his hard work looked like as the Kings opened training camp Sunday evening at the Penhold Arena.
It was well worth the wait.
“It was nice to see everyone we recruited on the ice at the same time,” said Keeper. “There’s a lot of speed and skill out there and that’s what I tried to bring to the group and it was evident even the first time together.”
Keeper actively recruited 24 players and all 24 were on hand, plus several walk-ons.
“We had four or five guys walk on who played junior B and I’m glad to see them all,” said the former RDC Queens head coach.
“We had a lot of calls and e-mails asking about tryouts and that’s shows a lot of interest in the area and in the team. Whether they make the team or not, who knows, but they’re students and they should feel good about being part of this. Hopefully if they don’t make it they still come out and support the team.”
Keeper can affiliate with the players, who are involved with the junior B programs as long as they attend RDC. He’s hoping to do just that with a goaltender.
“We’re hoping a goaltender with either Blackfalds or the Red Deer Vipers is at school, so we can affiliate with him incase of injuries,” said Keeper, who looks to be solid in goal with Kraymer Barnstable and Red Deer native Mike Salmon, both of whom played in the Western Hockey League. Barnstable played with the Red Deer Rebels and was with UBC prior to coming to RDC.
“We’re fortunate to have two former Western Hockey League goaltenders, who bring a lot of experience to the team,” said Keeper, who filled out his roster last week with the addition of defenceman Kirsten Odendaal of Red Deer and forward Andrew Coles of Sylvan Lake.
Odendaal played last season with Camrose of the Alberta Junior Hockey League and Coles played 14 games with Denver in the Central Hockey League.
“Kirsten was a real nice addition as we had only one right handed defencemen. He thinks the game well, is quick and a smooth skater . . . he will definitely help us. As for Andrew I didn’t get a chance to see him play, but he played with Denver and just decided to come back and go to school. From what I hear he’s a character player and more of a grinder and plays it tough. But that’s something every team needs.”
Overall the Kings should have seven or eight defencemen.
“I’m comfortable with the guys we have and with Cody Reynolds and Erik Lodge on the coaching staff and working with the defence the defencemen will improve as we go along,” said Keeper, who was impressed with several players Sunday, including defenceman Shamus Graham, who played with Dauphin, and forwards Carter Page and Neil Landry from Humbolt, D Jay McGrath from Kindersley and Riley Simpson of Innisfail, who attended Ohio State the last two years.
“They all impressed us,” added Keeper. “They have speed and quick hands and stood out.”
The Kings continue to practice each day from 4:30-6 p.m. in Penhold with their first exhibition game Sept, 13 at 7 p.m. in Penhold against the SAIT Trojans. The same teams meet Sept, 14 at SAIT and the Kings host the University of Alberta, Augustana on Sept. 19.
• The RDC soccer teams have also started their camps as they open the ACAC season Saturday in Medicine Hat . . . They play in Lethbridge Sunday and open at home Sept. 14 against SAIT . . . The Queens hockey team opens this week as does the basketball and volleyball teams.