PENHOLD — The parity that exists in the Alberta Colleges Men’s Hockey League was apparent during the weekend at the Penhold Regional Multiplex.
The RDC Kings went into a two-game set with the Keyano Huskies of Fort McMurray with a six-point lead over their northern foes, but that cushion was reduced to three when the visitors claimed three of the four points up for grabs.
The Huskies staged a third-period comeback to edge their hosts 5-4 Friday and on Saturday came away with a 3-3 draw. Keyano has played two fewer games than the Kings, who are going into a bye week and don’t play again until Feb. 5 in Calgary versus the SAIT Trojans.
“It’s tight. It’s tough,” RDC head coach Trevor Keeper said following Saturday’s saw-off, in reference to the competitive nature of the league. “Everybody plays hard and everybody’s prepared. We know each other really well, we play each other often.”
Keeper had no issue with his club’s work ethic in the two-game series, with errors and a handful of players who didn’t bring their A-game being the major culprits in RDC earning just a single point.
“This weekend we had some lapses that cost us and we had a few guys who weren’t sharp and on their game,” said Keeper. “That cost us as well.
“We played hard. An example was the third period today in which we got close to half our shots in the whole game. We were pushing, but a few mistakes early cost us getting the full two points.”
The Kings outshot their guests 19-10 in the third period Saturday and 40-27 overall. They trailed 3-2 when Dylan Rota connected at 6:30 of the period, but got a tying goal from Blair Mulder — on a rising slapshot from the point — a mere 30 seconds later.
From there, RDC netminder Devon Fordyce and Keyano stopper Logan Stebner held the fort through the final 13 minutes of regulation time and the five-minute four-on-four overtime frame.
Connor Hartley and Jordan McTaggart notched first- and second-period goals for the Kings, while Kyle Campbell and Richard Dartnall accounted for the other Keyano markers.
The end result snapped a three-game RDC losing streak.
“We just reminded the guys that as you go through a season you’re going to hit speed bumps and there are going to be times when things don’t go your way,” said Keeper. “But good teams never lose multiple games in a row and we have to get positive and focus on what we have to do to keep getting better next week in practice.
“We can’t be pointing fingers or anything like that. Just take accountability and keep continuing to get better as we go into this last stretch. We have four days of practice and hopefully we’ll get re-energized.”
The Kings bench boss said he expects two players — winger Regan Wilson (upper body) and defenceman Mike Statchuk (lower body) — who missed the Keyano series to be back in the RDC lineup in two weeks.
The Kings’ next home game is Feb. 6 at the Multiplex versus SAIT.