PENHOLD — The NAIT Ooks showed the Red Deer College Kings just how far they have to go to be among the elite in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference men’s hockey on Saturday.
Despite playing one of their best periods of the season, the Kings were outclassed by the Ooks in a 5-3 loss at the Penhold Regional Multiplex.
“I still think NAIT is the measuring stick in our league, they have some high-end talent,” said Kings head coach Trevor Keeper. “You look at their forward lines and there is some offensive skill that is real hard to defend against.”
John Dunbar scored twice and added an assist to lead the Ooks (18-3-0-1) offence while Sam Waterfield, Kevin Carthy and Jordan Wood also scored. goalie Kyle Birch made 33 saves for the win.
Riley Simpson replied with two goals for the Kings (9-12-0-1) while Pat Martens got the other. Kraymer Barnstable, making his second start in as many nights, made 41 saves in the loss.
Through 39 minutes it was looking like RDC was going to pull off an upset, up 3-1 in full control and playing their best hockey of the season.
But Waterfield scored at 19:38 of the second period and the Ooks took the momentum into the intermission.
In the third period RDC looked gassed and NAIT looked as fresh as they did when the puck dropped to start the game.
Wood tied the game at 4:51 of the third period, then Dunbar gave the Ooks the Ooks a 4-3 lead at 11:03 and Carthy iced it at 14:11.
RDC did not have any answers for NAIT as they were caught standing around in their own zone, failed to move the man in front of the net on a few goals and failed to pick up the late man coming in on others.
It was the second game in two nights where the Kings were in the game after 40 minutes only to have the Ooks pull away in the third period. RDC was battling a rash of injuries and the flu, but the difference between the second year Kings and the loaded Ooks was obvious.
“It was a little bit of a depleted lineup and it is tough when you don’t have a full tank playing against a team like NAIT,” said Keeper.
The Ooks have three players in the top five in league scoring, led by Dunbar with 41 points (16 goals, 25 assists) in 22 games. Scott Fellnermayr (7-22-29) is third and Michael Piluso (12-15-27 in 18 games) is fifth. The Kings have one player in the top 20 in league scoring, Riley Simpson (15-10-25 in 22 games) is eighth.
“Those are real tough players to stop,” said Keeper. “I thought we matched up in a lot of ways, we just didn’t match up in the end with the high potency scoring in tight.”
NOTES — The Kings were 1-for-4 on the power play, the Ooks were 0-for-3 … The Kings are in Fort McMurray next weekend to play the Keyano College Huskies (11-8-1-2).