By DANNY RODE
Special to the Advocate
It was a disappointing conclusion to the Alberta Colleges Men’s Hockey League season, but RDC Kings head coach Trevor Keeper has to feel good about the future.
The Kings were eliminated from the playoffs Sunday evening, losing 4-0 to the University of Alberta, Augustana Vikings in Camrose. The Vikings won the best-of-three ACAC quarter-final series 2-1. The Kings lost 3-1 on Friday in Camrose, then beat the Vikings 2-0 Saturday in Penhold.
“We were confident going into the game and we felt we had a good game plan,” said Keeper. “But we took three accidental penalties in the first six minutes and while we killed them off it put us behind the eight ball.”
The Kings trailed 1-0 after the first period on a goal by Owen Sobchak. Connor McLaughlin scored twice for the Vikings in the second period. His second proved to be a killer when on a delayed penalty against the Vikings, he hit Dylan Baer’s stick which knocked the puck into the open RDC net.
“Mike (goalie Salmon) had left the net because of the penalty,” explained Keeper. “It was a scenario you hardly ever see and it affected the guys and they just couldn’t get it back.”
The Kings out shot the Vikings in the third period but Adam Osczevski scored for the Vikings to put a lid on the victory.
Curtis Skip finished with 27 saves for Camrose while Salmon made 26.
“Their goalie played well, in fact he did all three games,” said Keeper, who can know focus on next season.
He will lose only six players with Ty Mappin committed already.
“We have two or three others who we could get commitments from this week, so it’s going good,” Keeper said.
The Kings lose Blair Mulder and Mike Statchak off the blueline, backup goaltender Devon Fordyce and forwards Riley Simpson, Jordan McTaggart and Connor Patchett.
“We have a strong base returning including (Troy) Trombley and Salmon in goal,” said Keeper. “We also have a solid group on defence in (David) Heath, (Trevor) Costello, (Zak) Hicks and (Tanner) Butler. We have a couple of holes to fill back there and will look to add some size and defensive-defencemen.”
Up front the Kings have all their top scorers back except for Simpson.
“This year we had 10 rookies overall and it usually takes a year to get unaccustomed to the league,” said Keeper. “We feel with the young guys returning up front along with a couple of new recruits we’ll be fine.”
In fact Keeper feels they will challenge the top teams.
“When I took over four years ago I felt we could challenge for a championship in our fifth year,” he said. “And with a solid group of veterans, the best we’ve had, I think we can be optimistic.”
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at email@example.com.