Kings 3 Thunder 2
PENHOLD — The Christmas break did the Red Deer College Kings (7-9-0-1) men’s hockey team a lot of good.
In their first game of the new year on Friday, they rolled past the Concordia Thunder 3-2 at the Penhold Multiplex, snapping a six-game Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference losing streak.
The game was arguably their most complete effort of the season, and had it not been for a big game by Concordia (3-15-0-1) goalie Rhys Hadfield, the difference in the score would have been much bigger.
“The guys rejuvenated over the break, we had an unbelievable week of practice … the guys were hungry, they were willing to do what it took tonight,” said Kings assistant coach Cody Reynolds, who along with fellow assistant coach Jeff Denham filled in for suspended head coach Trevor Keeper. “We did the little things right and we got better every single period.”
Keeper was serving a one-game ban for comments he made in the media about officiating following their 6-5 loss to the Augustana Vikings on Nov. 29
The Kings got goals from Riley Simpson, Nick Bell and Tyler Berkholtz while Kraymer Barnstable made 20 saves for the win.
The Thunder responded with goals from Brett Richards and Nathan Smith while Hadfield made 42 saves and picked up an assist.
Concordia opened the scoring at 7:05 of the first period as Richards put home a rebound off a rush and the Thunder went into the break with a 1-0 lead despite being outshot 16-9 in the frame.
Simpson tied the game 2:03 into the second period, after he was left alone in front of the net and found the back of the net off a quick pass from Riley Point behind the net.
Bell put the Kings in front at 13:30 with teammate Davis Claffey serving a five minute major and a game misconduct for hitting from behind. The Red Deer defenceman took a stretch pass from Berkholtz and went in alone on Hadfield, he was stopped on his first shot but shovelled the rebound into the cage.
The Thunder didn’t take long to respond, just as the major ended Smith picked his way through the Kings defence and beat Barnstable.
The score remained tied 2-2 at the intermission, but Berkholtz made quick work of it in the third period, banging home a rebound at 3:13.
Concordia never really came close to tying it.
“It sets the tone for the second half and that’s what good teams do, they get better as the season goes on,” said Reynolds. “You want to finish off the season on a high note heading into playoffs.”
The two teams are back at it tonight in Edmonton at 8:15 p.m.
l The RDC Queens (4-5-3) moved into third place and the final playoff position in the ACAC with a 1-0 win over the NAIT Ooks in Edmonton on Friday. Megan Jones scored the lone goal for the Queens while freshman goalie Summer Roberts stopped all 13 shots she faced for her first ACAC win and shut out.