The Red Deer College Kings took a big step forward on Friday, but the troubling part was the two steps they took backwards on Saturday.
The second-year Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference men’s hockey team beat the Concordia Thunder 8-0 on Friday in Edmonton, but blew a two-goal lead in the return match on Saturday in Penhold, settling for a 3-3 tie.
The tie dropped RDC to 1-2-0-1 to open the season after getting swept by the Augustana Vikings (2-2-0-0) on the opening week.
The frustration was evident for Kings head coach Trevor Keeper following Saturday’s game.
“I’m not happy at all,” he said. “(Friday) night was the culmination of us playing well for a couple weekends in a row and we got rewarded for it. We had a good first period, we were doing the same things we were doing (Friday), but it is a little bit of human nature to take you foot off the gas pedal. Some guys started playing pond hockey and doing their own thing and that kind of spreads throughout the lineup.”
Clay Petrie scored twice on Friday for RDC while Greg Lamoureux, Connor Hartley, Pat Martens, Joel Topping, Jeff Archibald and Shamus Graham added singles while Kraymer Barnstable stopped all 28 shots he faced in net.
On Saturday, Doug Jones, Tanner Butler and Riley Simpson tallied as the Kings built a 3-1 lead through 20 minutes. Barnstable stopped 17 of the 20 shots he faced.
Colin Minardi, Justin Moir and Jordon Hoffman replied for the Thunder (0-3-0-1) while Rhys Hadfield stopped 35 shots.
In the second period, RDC’s focus started to slip away, highlighted by Concordia’s second goal.
Barnstable went out of his net to play the puck, except his clearing pass landed on the stick of Moir who fired the puck into the gaping cage as the goalie tried to dive back in vain.
“Kraymer’s played really well for us … he just came out and started over playing the puck, just like the rest of the guys trying to do their own thing and nobody knew what the next guy was going to do with it,” said Keeper.
Barnstable has played all four regular season games this year with fellow goalie Mike Salmon out with a groin/hip injury. Salmon is expected back on the ice for next weekend.
The Thunder tied it up at 5:39 of the third period on a three-on-two as Barnstable slid over to make the initial save but Hoffman popped in the rebound.
One of the positives to draw out of the weekend was the play of Petrie.
His two goals on Friday were his first two of the season and his line helped kick start the club’s biggest offensive showing since training camp opened.
“He’s very evasive, he’s hard to control when he has the puck, he has good vision and good hockey sense, and when he wants to he works really hard defensively too,” said Keeper of his five-foot-eight centreman.
The second-year forward is a Red Deer native, but after playing with the Midget AAA Optimist Chiefs in 2009-2010, he spent the next three years playing for the Cowichan Valley Capitals of the B.C. Hockey League and the Calgary Canucks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
The opportunity to play at home was one he could not turn down.
“I was excited to come back to Red Deer,” said Petrie. “After being away for a few years, it sucks (moving) back home with the parents, but it feels good to come back and school is important.”
In his first season with the Kings he scored 21 points (seven goals, 14 assists) in 27 games. He is playing with two wingers he has already found a lot of chemistry with Jones and Riley Point.
“I love my line. I want us to keep going,” said Petrie. “We did struggle the first couple of games, but with the talent we have we’re going to rock and roll.”
Up next for the Kings is a trip to Caronport, Sask., to play the Briercrest Clippers (0-4-0-0) on Friday and Saturday.