When Joel Topping announced he was leaving the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes prior to Christmas it was expected he would join the RDC Kings.
That was the plan.
But it fell through when Topping learned he would have to use a full year of WHL scholarship money, despite playing only a half a season with the Kings.
“Joel is in school, but it wouldn’t have been right to use all that (scholarship money) for one semester,” said Keeper. “He decided not to use it and wait until September.
“It would have been nice to have him, but he’s still young and it won’t hurt him to get adjusted to school and come in next September.”
As it is the Kings added three players for the second half while losing two.
They lost high-scoring Dustin Lebrun prior to the break and forward Neil Landry at Christmas.
Lebrun was one of the top scorers in the ACAC with nine goals and nine assists in 12 games before pulling the plug. Landry had two goals and one helper in 18 games.
“Dustin was taking business, but felt it wasn’t for him and we didn’t have what he was looking for in the trades,” explained Keeper. “Neil was doing well in school, but was in a similar situation.”
Keeper did add forwards Brett Printz and Logan Sceviour and defenceman Davis Claffey. All three are from Red Deer, giving the Kings 13 players from Central Alberta.
“Both Dustin and Neil were left wingers, which hurt, but Brett plays the left side and gives us size and talent,” said Keeper.
Printz, who is listed at six-foot-two and 200-pounds, was going to be with the Kings in September, but decided to accept an offer to try out for the University of Calgary Dinos. But the Dinos are one of the premier CIS teams in the country and Printz wasn’t getting any playing time, so he decided to return to RDC.
Both Claffey and Sceviour played junior last season and were playing part time with the Bentley Generals this year.
“We needed to get a little bigger on defence and Davis was the captain in Canmore and gives us size and depth on the blueline,” said Keeper, who will likely use two of the three newcomers on Friday when the Kings open the second half of their season against the NAIT Ooks at 7:15 p.m. at the Penhold Regional Multiplex.
“We’ll use a couple of them for sure Friday and possibly all three on Saturday (at NAIT), depending on how Friday goes,” added Keeper.
The Kings go into the weekend tied for first place in the league with the SAIT Trojans, one point up on NAIT.
“They have two games in hand and for me they are the toughest team in the league,” added Keeper. “They’re the defending champions, have size and speed. They have the No. 1 penalty kill and No. 1 power play in the league. We’re second in penalty kill and a close third on the power play, so I’m looking for an interesting weekend.”
Meanwhile the basketball Kings also saw a change on the roster with American Craig Johnson gone for sure and possibly guard Reece Gavin.
“Reece called me and said he wants to stay, so we’ll know more by the end of the week if he’s here,” said Kings head coach Clayton Pottinger, who added six-foot-eight Sam Lolik and outstanding forward Rob Pierce to the roster. Pierce isn’t available this weekend while Lolik is expected to play when RDC hosts Grande Prairie Friday at RDC. The women tip off at 6 p.m. with the men to follow.
“Rob and Sam will be a sight for sore eyes,” said Pottinger. “Both fit into the team concept and add depth. Rob is one of the top players in the league the last two years while Sam gives us experience and strength inside.”
The Kings sport a 10-1 record with Grande Prairie at 6-5.
“They do have the top scorer in the league (Jordan Teo, 22.73 ppg) and have size inside,” said Pottinger. “They match up well with us, which should make for a good game . . . good for both sides.”
The Queens take a 5-6 record into the second half of the season while Grande Prairie has an 8-3 mark.
l The hockey Queens open their schedule Thursday when they host SAIT at 7 p.m. at the Arena. The two clash Saturday in Calgary.
l The volleyball teams also return to action this weekend as they meet the NAIT Ooks in a home-and-home series — Friday in Edmonton and Saturday, beginning at 6 p.m., at RDC.
Both RDC teams are first overall with the Queens at 10-0 and Kings 8-0. The Ooks are 5-3 on the men’s side and 7-3 in the women’s standings.
l Volleyball setter Sam Brisbane and basketball Queens point guard Carly Hoar shared the Boston Pizza RDC athlete of the week awards.
Brisbane was outstanding as the Kings played a pair of exhibition matches in California. They dropped a close 3-0 decision to the two-time defending NCAA champion University of California, Irvine, then defeated the 15th ranked Cal Baptist University 3-1.
Hoar was solid for the Queens in the NAIT tournament, especially on defence and scored 32 points in three games.