The RDC Kings fell short against the rival NAIT Ooks in Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference men’s hockey play on Friday night at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

RDC Kings comeback falls short against NAIT Ooks

Ooks 5 Kings 3

The RDC Kings dug a hole against the top team in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Association and despite a comeback effort, were never able to recover.

RDC allowed a pair of goals to the NAIT Ooks 10 seconds apart, under six minutes into the first period on home ice Friday and had to play catch-up the rest of the night.

Down 4-0 in the third period, the home side made it interesting with three goals in only two minutes and 15 seconds but NAIT closed out the 5-3 victory with an empty-net goal.

“We got off to a slow start. We were playing the first-place team in the league, top goaltender in the league and we spotted them a couple of goals,” said RDC Kings coach Trevor Keeper.

“In the second and third period, we pushed. Outshot them significantly. Power play was connecting and battling. We pulled the goaltender. It’s tough, one little turnover and the game’s over. We talked to the guys, we want to be in the final and there’s a good chance that’s who’s going to be there. We have to go up there (Saturday) and make a statement.”

Dylan Stewart and Tyler Robertson buried the first-period tallies 10 seconds apart on Kings netminder Arik Weersink, who was making his first start since Nov. 30.

Late in the first, the Kings had a chance to cut the deficit with a full two-minute five-on-three advantage. They failed to convert and weren’t able to turn the tide until late in the game.

“I think the guys were really hoping– try to score a couple of goals and win the game in that two-minute span. They weren’t patient enough and they were trying to shoot through shin pads and sticks,” Keeper said.

“NAIT has a good penalty kill and they have to be more patient, draw guys to you and distribute it. Find seams and get open. A little bit of gripping the sticks too tight.”

Curtis Roach added two more NAIT goals in the second period and Ooks were cruising through 40 minutes.

Just before the midway point of the third, Ryley Smith lit a spark for the Kings with his fourth goal of the year and Scott Ferguson buried on the power play 75 seconds later to cut the deficit to two.

Tyrell Mappin was credited with the Kings goal a minute later that got his side within one.

With the goalie pulled, Tyler Podgorenko turned the puck over at the Ooks blueline and Jake Mykitiuk punched in the empty-net goal for NAIT.

Ooks goalie Jordan Papirny was strong in the win with 28 saves, while Weersink stopped 18 shots for the Kings.

After the loss, the Kings dropped to 13-4-2 on the year. With 28 points, they sit in second place in the ACAC standings, two points up on the MacEwan University Griffins and four back of the Ooks for first.

The Kings head to Edmonton Saturday night to take on the Ooks.

Red Deer College Kings and Queens

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