University of Alberta-Augustana Vikings goalie Curtis Skip willed his team to victory.
A day after the RDC Kings shelled the Vikings 8-3, Skip backstopped his team to a gutsy 3-2 victory at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre on Sunday.
Skip made 36 saves in the victory, including 15 in the first period as the Vikings split the weekend of Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference hockey play with RDC.
“3-2 game and we outshot them 38-19 and their goalie is the first star. How you combat that is to score on him earlier. We had a lot of good chances in the first and second period,” Kings head coach Trevor Keeper said.
“Maybe not urgent enough to put in the back of the net. Once a goaltender makes some saves and gets rolling, he gets a bit of confidence.”
Despite Ryley Smith scoring with 83 seconds left in the first to tie the game at one, RDC just wasn’t able to generate very many high-quality scoring chances from that point forward.
The big miss for the Kings came on the man-advantage Sunday, scoring only once in eight attempts. Their only goal came with 21 seconds left, down a pair of goals, on a six-on-four advantage.
“It’s tough at the end, you pull the goalie to try and tie it up. The guys defending have it easy. They just have to block shots and work to get loose pucks. It’s hard to do the finer points on offence when you’re under pressure and there’s a time limit,” Keeper said.
“Our power play, for the most part, has been at the top of the league. (Saturday) we had two power-play goals, (Sunday) we couldn’t get pucks behind their goaltender. We had lots of traffic and shots, just didn’t finish.”
Keeper said he felt his group let off the gas a little bit Sunday after the smooth victory Saturday night.
“We knew it was going to be a tougher game. When they got beat 8-3, they weren’t going to come back and play casually,” Keeper said.
“I think the guys kind of thought it would be a little bit easier. The physicality part of the game, the one-on-one battles and the willingness to score goals when you have limited opportunities at the beginning of the game, that was the difference.”
In the win Saturday, after exchanging goals in the opening frame, the Kings broke through with four unanswered goals in the second. Chase Thudium, Ty Mappin, Tyler Podgorenko and Jacob Wozney had the tallies.
They added three quick goals in the opening four minutes of the third before UAA added a pair of goals to close out the scoring.
Thudium and Podgorenko finished the night with a pair of goals, while Mappin, Ryley Smith and Mathieu Lapointe all had two assists.
Nathan Alalouf got the win with 35 saves.