Kings' offence struggles in pair of losses to NAIT
PENHOLD — Special teams can go a long way for the RDC Kings to have success in the Alberta Colleges Men’s Hockey League this season.
But they proved to be a disaster in a 4-0 loss to the NAIT Ooks at the Penhold Regional Multiplex Saturday.
The Kings failed to convert on eight power plays while the Ooks connected twice on just three attempts.
“It was just the opposite of Friday when they were good on one of eight and we didn’t score on our four chances,” said Kings head coach Trevor Keeper, whose squad lost 1-0 at NAIT. “It’s something we need to be better at for sure.”
The Ooks scored both of their power play goals from directly in front of RDC netminder Kraymer Barnstable. The first on a tip in by Dante Borrelli at 10:24 of the second period, to make the score 2-0, and the second by Jamie Johnson, who converted a rebound at 15:57 of the third period to put the finishing touches on the scoring. Meanwhile the Kings, who are overall smaller than the Ooks, had problems getting in front of NAIT netminder Ty Swabb.
“They do a good job of boxing out and clearing out in front of their net and at the other end they crash the net really well,” said Keeper. “But the bottom line is that they’re the defending champions and have 14 players returning. That experience goes a long, long way.
“Most of our team are first year players just out of junior. They’ll learn how to compete in this league and how to win games as they gain that experience.”
The Kings do have a 2-2 record to start the season, their first in the league since 2004. Scoring has been a problem as they’ve managed just three goals, but they’ve allowed only six.
“I told the players that any time you’re new to a league you can’t expect to get a lot of points right off the bat. It will come and they’ll pick up the points as we go along. Other teams like NAIT, with guys who have been in the league for two, three or four years, have that experience and will score.”
The Kings looked as if they would tie the game at 1-1 early in the second period, but Colton Yaremovich pulled the puck off the goal line as it was trickling in behind Swabb. Other than that the first-year NAIT netminder from Edmonton, who played with the Canmore Eagles, was solid.
“He’s a big goaltender and covers down low,” said Keeper. “He does allow rebounds. We need to jump on those and put the puck up under the bar. But again that will come with experience.”
Despite the loss, Keeper wasn’t about to be overly upset.
“We know where the bar is set,” he said. “They could once again be the best team in the league and we know what we have to do to beat them. Getting a chance to face them early in the season is good. We’ll have a bit of hunger plus we know where we have to improve.”
Former Edmonton Oil King Michael Piluso opened the scoring at 7:47 of the first period, against a screened Barnstable while Liam Darragh had the other NAIT goal at 15:22 of the second period.
Both netminders finished with 27 saves.
The Kings face the Grant MacEwan University Griffins in a home-and-home series this week — Friday at 7:15 p.m. in Penhold and Saturday in Edmonton.