PENHOLD —The Red Deer College Kings (10-12-0-3) narrowly avoided a major upset on Sunday against the last place team in Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference men’s hockey.
The opportunist Portage College Voyageurs (1-22-0-2) jumped on just about every opportunity their more than gracious hosts gave them, but still fell 7-4 at the Penhold Regional Multiplex on Sunday.
“The first 10 minutes was a lot of fun, we were all over them with lots of offence and lots of things happening,” said Kings head coach Trevor Keeper. “There was some rebounds and we just lost our focus in terms of boxing bodies out and whacking pucks out of the slot.”
Doug Jones, Logan Sceviour, Shamus Graham, Connor Hartley and Greg Lamoureux all scored once for the Kings while Mike Marianchuk put two into the empty net to seal the victory. Mike Salmon made 19 saves in his first start in the RDC net since a 5-3 loss Jan. 17 against the Briercrest Clippers (6-19-1-2).
Landon Kadatz, Paul Thompson, Cory Giroux and Gil Kakegabon replied with goals for the Voyageurs while goalie Aaron Boyce held them in, allowing five goals on 45 shots.
RDC actually built a 3-1 lead in the first period on goals by Jones, Sceviour and Graham, but then started coast. The Voyageurs made them pay as Portage tied the game up heading into the first intermission.
The Kings regrouped during the break and came out and dominated the second period, but were only able to get one of 16 shots past Boyce as Hartley chipped a shot past the flailing goalie after being left alone in the slot at 18:19.
The Kings kept coming the pressure up to start the final frame with Lamoureux finally scoring a power-play goal at 13:40. It looked like the Voyageurs were sunk, but they came back again as Kakegabon ripped a shot past Salmon at 17:58, cutting the lead to one goal with 2:04 to go.
However, Marianchuk ended all dreams of a miracle comeback with two goals into the gaping net with less than a minute to go.
“We had all four lines playing well defensively and earning opportunities to score,” said Keeper. “Every line scored goals today and we have to have that moving forward.”
Salmon also rebounded well in the final two periods after a shaky opening.
“I could tell he was a little bit nervous at first,” said Keeper. “We talked to him after the first period when it was 3-3 and we just told him to calm down, to control his rebounds and to talk to the D-men about clearing pucks and he was good for the remainder of the game.”
The Kings are preparing for the stretch run into the playoffs, they have at least one game in hand over every team ahead of them, still unless they get some help, they may have a tough time moving out of the final playoff spot with four weeks to go. They are currently five points back of the Keyano College Huskies (11-9-2-4) for fifth place.
“We just want to do things right and play how we want to be playing when the playoffs come,” said Keeper. “We’ll worry about where the standings sort themselves out after we’re done these next seven games.”
The Kings have a home-and-home series with the SAIT Trojans (22-5-1-0) next week, hosting on Friday in Penhold at 7 p.m. and then in Calgary on Saturday.
• The RDC Queens had their six game winning streak snapped in Edmonton on Saturday against the NAIT Ooks in ACAC women’s hockey action. The Ooks won 4-0, avenging their 4-3 shootout loss to the Queens on Thursday in Red Deer. NAIT goalie Jill Diachuk made 15 saves for her 11th career shutout, tying an ACAC record also held by University of Calgary Dinos goalie Kati Urness.