PENHOLD – RDC Kings head coach Trevor Keeper decided to spend a little extra time with his team Saturday afternoon prior to facing the Grant MacEwan University Griffins in Alberta Colleges Men’s Hockey League action at the Penhold Regional Multiplex.
The Kings were coming off a 5-1 loss at GMU on Friday and were trying to snap a seven-game winless streak, which saw them fall into sixth place in the conference.
“We called the guys in 30 minutes early and talked about the slide and what we needed to do to get out of it,” explained Keeper. “We watched a little video from Friday and focused on the positives and briefly went over the negatives and talked about what we needed to do to turn things around.
“And the guys really stepped up.”
The Kings snapped their winless streak with a solid 5-1 victory, which moved them into fifth place, one point up on SAIT and one behind GMU, with two games in hand.
“It was an important game or us to show how we can play and to get back to playing a solid 60 minutes,” said Keeper. “The guys did that and were rewarded for it.”
Then Kings also broke out with five goals, led by Pat Martens, who scored the first two at 6:28 of the first period and 2:16 of the second.
“By getting some offence it gives everyone a little confidence and everyone breaths a little easier once we broke the bubble,” said Keeper.
Marten’s second goal broke a 1-1 tie with Doug Jones connecting at 16:03 of the middle stanza and Riley Simpson at 9:13 and Ben Williams at 18:39 of the third. Jones and Williams scored on the power play as the Kings were two-for-five. The Kings killed off all three shorthanded situations.
Kraymer Barnstable picked up the win in goal, finishing with 29 saves, including 12 in the first period. Only Ryan Benn was able to beat him at 19:27 of the first period.
“He was solid,” said Keeper. “There was about a three minute stretch in the first period where we let down a bit and he came up big. Other than that the guys did a good job of controlling the play.”
The Kings finished with 29 shots on Chris Wray.
RDC has four games remaining on their schedule as they face seventh-place Portage next Friday in Lac La Biche and Saturday in Penhold and finish off against second-place Augustana – Feb. 26 in Penhold and Feb. 27 in Camrose.
The Kings will play in a best-of-three quarter-final. The top two teams in the standings receive a bye with the next four meeting in the first round of playoffs.