PENHOLD – It took them a little longer than they wanted, but the RDC Kings finally clinched a spot in the Alberta Colleges Men’s Hockey League playoffs.
“That was a big game for us,” said Kings forward Dylan Thudium, who scored twice in the Kings 3-2 victory over the Portage Voyageurs at the Penhold Regional multiplex Saturday.
“After a tough loss last night (a 4-0 loss to the Voyageurs in Lac La Biche) we had a little team meeting and buckled down and got a solid effort up and down the lineup.”
The Kings have struggled since the Christmas break as they have managed a win and a tie in the previous nine games prior to Saturday.
“We blew some opportunities (to clinch a playoff spot) the last couple of weeks so it was good to get that off the guys backs so we can go into next weekend with some confidence, like we showed tonight,” said Kings head coach Trevor Keeper, who was glad to see the guys get together prior to the game to talk things over.
“That was good. They took it upon themselves. We gave them a little guidance telling them to focus on doing what needs to happen, not what they didn’t do. It was nice to see them come out and focus on what they wanted to happen not what might happen.”
The Kings ran into a hot goaltender in Sundre native Adam Buekeboom, who played bantam and minor midget AAA hockey in Red Deer. Buekeboom kept the game scoreless until Dylan Baer converted a rebound on the power play at 15:30 of the first period and Thudium broke away and picked the corner at 16:46.
Jonathan Young got the Voyageurs in the game, beating RDC netminder Mike Salmon at 8:08 of the second period from the slot just seconds after RDC killed off the first of two penalties that had them two-men short for 1:29.
Thudium got a power play goal of his own at 2:42 of the third period which proved to be the winner after Lindon Beckwith scored at 12:03.
“It was nice to get a couple goals, especially at home,” said Thudium, who has six goals and 12 assists in his first season with the Kings.
Thudium feels the team is close to being where they want to be with two games remaining on the regular schedule.
“Since Christmas I don’t think we’ve been preparing enough and really didn’t get too many bounces or calls. But things are picking up and we look to get rolling at the right time.”
The Kings face the Augustana Vikings from Camrose in a home-and-home twin bill to finish the season -Friday at Penhold and Saturday in Camrose.
“They’re big games for us and no question we want to have our best two games of the season to use as a springboard into the playoffs.”
The Kings sit with a 14-13-0-3 record and in fifth place, one point back of Grant MacEwan and one ahead of SAIT. As of now they would face Grant MacEwan in the playoffs.
“It doesn’t matter who we play, every team is tough, we need to be our best every night,” said Thudium.
The Kings finished with 40 shots on Buekeboom while Salmon made 28 saves, including several outstanding down the stretch.
“Our goal tonight was to get 12 shots a period and we surpassed that,” said Keeper. “But the key thing was to get shots from the slot. Last night we didn’t have those.”
There were no passengers in the lineup either as Keeper went with 13 forwards and five defencemen with Alex Marcinew out after a fight Friday.
“Our 13th forward was Connor Patchett and he was one of our players of the game. He played centre, left wing, right wing and killed penalties and was outstanding in limited minutes,” said Keeper.