PENHOLD — The Red Deer College Kings turned their game around after a weak first period Thursday, but the slovenly start proved costly in their Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference preseason game versus the Camrose Augustana Vikings at the Penhold Regional Multiplex.
The Kings were dominated early, but despite trailing 1-0 after 20 periods, pulled even in the middle frame before surrendering a late power-play goal and falling 2-1.
“The first five to six minutes we were outshot 12-2. We had a slow start but the second and third periods were pretty even,” said Kings head coach Trevor Keeper. “I told the guys we didn’t lose the game because of the power-play goal, we lost it on the first goal. We were standing around watching a bit and we allowed them to have quite a few shots on net.
“We just have to get started as soon as the puck drops tomorrow against Bentley.”
Keeper was referring to tonight’s 8 p.m. meeting with the senior AAA Generals at the Red Deer Arena, but his focus Thursday was on guiding his club past the Vikings.
It didn’t happen, despite a strong third period in which the Kings outshot their guests 22-17 and had a late two-man advantage with the game knotted at 1-1.
“We’ve worked on our power play the last two days but we haven’t even talked about a five-on-three,” said Keeper, whose club fell to 0-3 in exhibition play that includes two losses to the host University of Lethbridge Pronghorns last weekend. “In Lethbridge we scored three power play goals in two games and our power play was moving it around pretty good.
“We had some chances tonight but we haven’t really addressed the power play much yet … the penalty kill as well.”
Evan Warmington connected for the visitors a mere 61 seconds into the contest and the lead held up until Tyler Berkholtz pulled the Kings even at 13:25 of the second period.
Curtis Skip, who shared the Vikings’ goaltending duties with Andy Williams, gave up the RDC goal but came up big the rest of the way. He turned aside all 22 shots he faced in the final frame and combined with Williams to make 35 saves.
“He played well, we had a lot of pressure on him,” said Keeper, whose netminder, Mike Salmon, faced 40 shots.
Kings forward Mike Marianchuk was assessed a slashing penalty as the Vikings were in the late stages of killing a two-man disadvantage, and Jeff Lorenz, parked at the edge of the crease, scored a power-play marker with 1:18 remaining to give the visitors the victory.
“They (Vikings) have some older veteran guys and they’re good,” said Keeper. “They forecheck really hard, they send two guys deep. We adjusted to that after the first period and had better tape-to-tape passes.
“But in the first 10 minutes of the game our defencemen were surprised by their pressure and our forwards weren’t getting back fast enough. It’s preseason and we don’t want to panic about things. We don’t want to lose but we know the things we need to work on.”
l The Kings added Red Deer native Jody Sick to their roster this week and Keeper inserted the six-foot-four forward into the lineup Thursday.
Sick, who registered at RDC Tuesday and practised once with the Kings prior to Thursday’s outing, played with the Camrose Kodiaks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League last season and started this season with the Topeka, Kan., RoadRunners of the North American League.