The RDC Kings have had a winning record in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Association the past three seasons and hope to continue the tradition later this fall.
All of that develops from a process and that process this weekend meant a humbling pair of defeats against the University of Calgary Dinos, who play in the USports Canada West.
While nobody likes to lose, the Kings were using the two-game preseason mini-series as an exercise in how much room there is to improve over the next few weeks.
Friday the Kings were shutout 5-0 by goalie Tyler Gutenberg and the Dinos, then Saturday they played better but were still outshot 50-15 and lost 4-2 at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.
The score was of little concern to Kings coach Trevor Keeper, who pointed to the number of former WHLers on the Dinos roster and the speed and skill in which many of those players show off in a 60-minute game.
Keeper pointed to the penalty kill as a strong point– his group killed off five of six shorthanded opportunities on the weekend. And while it may not have looked like it on the scoreboard, he though their defensive coverage improved over the weekend. But again, against superior skill, if you give an inch, they’ll take a mile.
“We’re establishing our game plan, our tactics. Trying to establish short shifts and we’ve really focused on D-zone coverage and offensive zone entries. Things that are going to allow us to have the puck more,” Keeper said.
“Playing against USports teams, it’s a good way to establish those habits. Because if you’re two-feet off your man or you’re lazy or not thinking, you’re going to get burned.
“Even though we lost 4-2, it was good to establish habits and a level of play that’s higher than we need to be at most of the year.”
Ty Mappin and Donavan Lumb scored for RDC in the loss Saturday.
The Kings will now look forward to hosting the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns for a pair of games, in what is dubbed as the “Babcock Bowl”. Of course, current Toronto Maple Leafs bench boss Mike Babcock coached both the Kings and Pronghorns during his decorated coaching career.
For Keeper, next weekend is about players taking a step forward and establishing their roles for the Kings.
“We want to keep ironing out our penalty kill and power play. Trying some new things and introducing some progressions to our tactics. Guys are also trying out for those positions, we have a role and responsibility for everyone,” Keeper added.
That will help the Kings open the ACAC season on Oct. 11 against the MacEwan University Griffins.
“Our goal this year is to be consistent,” Keeper said.
“Good record the past three years, but we’ve had some speed bumps during the season with games we should have won, that we lost. Even that out and be consistent from day 1, we’ll be playing in the spot we want to play in, in March.”
RDC will host the Pronghorns Saturday night at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Both games are at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.