Kings hockey grow recruiting class with pair of blueliners

The RDC Kings hockey roster continues to take shape for the 2019-20 Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference season.

RDC added a pair of defencemen in May and a third blueliner earlier this spring.

In April they picked up Daniel Liberty of Edmonton, then in early May, added Carter Wolski and Monday Boedy Donald committed to the group.

Kings head coach Trevor Keeper said after losing Mike Statchuk and captain Tanner Butler on the backend, they needed to bolster the position.

“The reality is you’re not going to replace (Tanner Butler). You hope other guys that have some experience and are moving into their second, third or fourth year, will step up and fill that spot,” said Keeper.

“We’ve brought in three rookies on the blueline. Good players to add to our mix.”

In 2017-18 Butler was first team All-Conference and led the ACAC in scoring for defencemen with 33 points. Last year, he led all d-men in scoring with 26 points, including 10 goals and 20 helpers. Butler was named the ACAC Men’s Hockey Player of the Year in 2018-19.

That’s a big void for Keeper and the Kings coaching staff to fill.

Donald was a veteran in the SJHL, playing 56 games this season for the Melfort Mustangs. He had five goals and 19 assists over the regular season and three points in 16 playoff games. The six-foot-one, 194-pound defenceman played 243 regular season games over five seasons in the SJHL. Donald is the all-time games played leader in the SJHL and helped push the Mustangs into the league final this year.

“He has a lot of experience. Very mobile, smooth skater,” said Keeper.

“Bit more of a defensive defenceman. A lot of experience penalty killing and good one-on-one. Pretty big body… he was an important piece, with Mike Statchuk leaving. He was one of our primary penalty killers and shutdown d-men. Boedy will do a good job of that. He’s got some offensive upside, too.”

Wolski also had a special season, winning the 2019 RBC Cup, Canada’s National Junior A Championship with the Brooks Bandits.

The five-foot-1o, 170-pound blueliner from Sexsmith had 19 points in 29 games for the Bandits this season. He picked up one point in the RBC Cup and suited up for the championship game. Wolski, 21, played five seasons in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, splitting time between Grande Prairie and Brooks.

“He’s an elite skater. Really quick, jumps into the rush and makes good first passes. More important is the program he played in and the experiences he had. He knows what it’s like to win and he knows how to prepare,” Keeper said.

Liberty suited up the last two seasons for the Melville Millionaires of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League scored 10 goals and had 15 assists in 49 games.

Kings roster largely set for 2019-20

With the additions on the blueline, Keeper is essentially ready to move forward with the roster as it stands.

He said the forward group is almost all returning and both goalies, Arik Weersink and Nathan Alalouf returning.

“We have 13 forwards returning and we generally carry 14. To have 13 guys coming back is big a thing for us. We only have two goalies, but two very capable ones,” Keeper said.

“We have one or two spots left to fill, but if we don’t we’re fine too. We have seven defencemen and 13 forwards. Barring injuries, it’s sometimes better if you have one guy in each position that’s competing to get in. Then you don’t have too many guys sitting out.”

The Kings will start training camp in August and play four exhibition games against USports teams in September. They’ll play a home and home with the University of Calgary Dinos and then a pair of home games against the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns.

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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