PENHOLD — The RDC Kings will see a lot of the University of Alberta, Augustana Vikings in the next eight days, meeting twice to open the Alberta Colleges Men’s Hockey League regular season next week.
And if the end of Thursday’s exhibition contest between the two is any indication there will be more than a few hard feelings when they meet Wednesday in Camrose and Friday in Penhold.
The teams battled to a 3-3 draw at the Penhold Regional Multiplex in a game that concluded with a fight between RDC’s Brett Wold and Dean Prpick of Camrose.
The hard-feelings came to a head in the five-minute overtime when RDC forward Riley Point was laid out with a cheap shot to the head.
“It was an elbow to the head, but all three of the officials said they didn’t see it, so what can you do,” said Kings head coach Trevor Keeper. “We took a penalty later, but I don’t mind. The guys fought back and stood up for each other.”
Point, a five-foot-nine forward from Calgary, appeared to be OK following the game, although Keeper wouldn’t say if he’ll play at the SAIT tournament this weekend. The Kings face Thompson Rivers University of Kamloops today and Simon Fraser University of Vancouver Saturday.
The Kings jumped into an early 2-0 lead against the more experienced Vikings, with Riley Simpson connecting just eight seconds into the game and Alex Marcinew scoring at 1:28.
“We focused on getting off to a quick start. Forechecking them hard and creating turnovers and the guys did just that,” said Keeper. “We were rewarded a little quicker than we anticipated and sometimes when you jump into an early lead it’s human nature to relax a bit and we did just that.”
The Vikings came back to narrow the gap to 2-1 with Jeff Lorenz scoring at 8:07 of the first period.
The Vikings took the lead in the second period as fifth-year forward Scott Aucion scored at 6:27 and Zaine Walker at 15:35.
“We played OK in the second period, but we did allow them to get back in it and take the lead,” said Keeper, who saw the team regroup in the third.
Pat Martens scored on the power play at 1:51 of the third period to pull the Kings even and they held the edge the rest of the way outshooting the Vikings 12-8 in the period. Both teams had a couple of excellent chances in the over time.
“We talked during the second intermission about having a strong third period, which is something we want every game,” said Keeper. “We did just that. We had a lot of opportunities to win the game, even in the over time. I was happy with that.”
Keeper was also pleased with the way the defence picked up their pace.
“They needed to make quicker decisions,” he said. “We had some inexperience back there, and we needed to keep our heads up and react quicker. Our defensive coaches Erik Lodge and Cody Reynolds, addressed that and talked about making a quick first pass out of our end and then supporting the offence.”
Kraymer Barnstable made 29 saves in goal for RDC and like his teammates seemed to get stronger as the game wore on.
“He hasn’t played much and has a few kinks to iron out, but got better toward the end,” added Keeper. “He made sure the pucks coming off his pads were going into the corners and handling rebounds better.”
The Kings have played two exhibition games and have the two at SAIT to finish off the preseason.
“It’s good to have these games as it gives the goaltenders a chance to get ready for the season, in fact it gives everyone a chance to iron out a few kinks, making sure we’re making the right decisions and playing consistent hockey.”
l The Kings finished with 17 shots on Vikings starting netminder Andy Williams while Chase Martin faced 19 shots . . . The teams split eight minor and two major penalties . . . Vikings have four players in their fifth season, five in their fourth, five in their third and four in their second . . . Kings have four players in their third season and one in his second.