PENHOLD — Generally in a blowout goaltending is not a major story line for the winning team.
But on Saturday, Mike Salmon was critical to the Red Deer College Kings 7-2 win over the Keyano Huskies at the Penhold Regional Multiplex in Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference men’s hockey.
The second year Red Deer goalie made 34 saves, many of them if the highlight reel variety, to keep the Kings in the game until they broke it wide open in the second period.
In the end, the score was a laugher with Greg Lamoureux and Tyler Berkholtz both scoring twice for RDC while Shamus Graham, Blair Mulder and Alex Marcinew all added singles from the blue line.
Kenny Murduff and Owen Sobchak replied for Keyano while Logan Stebnar allowed four goals on 20 shots before being replaced by Dustin Nikkel who allowed three goals on 15 shots over the final 28:25.
“I thought we played to what I consider our identity, which is using our speed, pressuring the other team, but playing tough two and standing up for each other and finishing checks,” said RDC head coach Trevor Keeper. “Keyano is a tough team physically and we stood up to that challenge and answered the bell on the score sheet too.”
Salmon was particularly strong as the Kings were outshot 36-35 overall and 26-22 over the final two periods. He made several big saves to shut the door on the Huskies while the Kings were clinging to 2-0 and 2-1 leads through the first half of the game.
“Sammy did a really good job at stepping up and playing today, he made key saves and timely saves and gave us a chance to keep scoring too,” said Keeper.
He gives the Kings a solid one-two punch in net with the veteran Kraymer Barnstable in his fourth and likely last season of eligibility. Salmon missed the first few weeks of the season with a groin pull, but has come back looking as strong as ever, posting a 2-1-0 record, with a 2.34 goals against average, third in the ACAC and a .941 save percentage, first in the ACAC.
No. 2 in both categories is Barnstable (3-3-1) who has a 2.26 G.A.A. and a 0.925 save percentage in seven games.
But instead of their being an intense rivalry or competition between the two for playing time, the exact opposite is true. They both understand as long as they are healthy they will be splitting time in the crease.
“We both are capable of starting for this team and because of that our practices are usually pretty competitive, but as soon as we get in the locker room we’re pretty good buds and we sit beside each other every day,” said Salmon. “It’s a really healthy competition between the two of us.”
Though this is Salmon’s second year with the Kings, this is his fourth season playing for Keeper, having spent two year under the head coach while playing for the Red Deer Midget AAA Optimist Chiefs from 2007-09.
If all goes well he should have another two years at least playing for Keeper.
It was an easy sell job to get Salmon to commit to the Kings in their inaugural season last year.
“After playing junior all over Western Canada, it’s kind of nice coming back home,” said Salmon, 22, who is in the business administration program. “Red Deer College has a lot of good courses to choose from … and there’s also a lot of guys from Central Alberta who I’ve played with and played against and it’s nice to be familiar with the guys and the coaching staff right off the get go.”
It is an enviable position for the Kings’ head coach to have a goalie he can lean on into the future with this potentially being Barnstable’s final year, he has one year of eligibility left, but signs point to him graduating this year.
“He’s very athletic, he’s a very strong goaltender,” said Keeper. “Sammy’s big attribute to me is how hard he competes in practice and it carries over to games. He works really hard to stop every puck in practice.”
Still, it also helps when they get seven goals of support.
Offence has been a bit of a struggle this season with only Riley Simpson consistently producing to this point. On Saturday they were firing on all cylinders.
RDC took a 2-0 lead through the first period on power-play goals by Graham and Mulder. Keyano cut the lead to 2-1 on Murduff’s marker, half fanning on a shot that knuckled past Salmon at 8:48.
But then the Kings completely took over.
Lamoureux scored his first goal at 9:39, then Marcinew made it 4-1 at 11:35 on a point shot that chased Stebner from the net. The Kings closed out the frame with Lamoureux’s second at 17:37 and Berholtz’s first goal at 18:52.
Sobchak beat Salmon at 8:36 of the third period on the power play, finishing off a two-on-one, but Berkholtz closed out the scoring with his second at 15:43 on a goal that mirrored Sobchak’s.
“Riley has such good composure that he finishes consistently, the other guys have the potential to do that too and it was good to see them break out today,” said Keeper.
The Kings are off next weekend with the bye, and will return to action the following weekend with a home-and-home set with the SAIT Trojans.