For the first time since the playoffs last season, the Red Deer Polytechnic Kings hockey team avenged an early Alberta Colleges Athletic Association (ACAC) playoff exit at the hands of the Briercrest College Clippers.
In March of this year, the Clippers swept the Kings in the quarterfinals, but this time around, the Kings had the upper hand and beat Briercrest twice over the weekend. The first came on Friday night when they won 6-3 and again Saturday afternoon 5-3 at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.
Head coach Trevor Keeper said Saturday afternoon they felt there was some unfinished business they wanted to take care of.
“Last year, we had a lot of injuries in playoffs, but we also were maybe looking past the quarterfinals,” Keeper said. “We’d been in the semifinals four years in a row before the pandemic. I remember that series we lost it in the third period of game one and then in the second game, they got momentum. In a best of three, it goes by pretty quick, so we definitely had that in mind and had to make amends for losing out to them last year.”
And there was no love lost between the two teams with plenty of back and forth between whistles and hits along the boards.
“It’s easier to be able to dial guys down and get them to be disciplined than it is to try to fire them up. We talk about we have skill and size but we have to play mean, too so I have no issue with that. That’s what we’re promoting,” he explained.
Some of it wasn’t always clean as the teams combined for 80 penalty minutes including four-10 minute game misconducts.
“The referees were trying to keep control. It was getting a little bit chippy at times but when you’re battling sometimes it’s hard to not cross that line,” Keeper said. “The unnecessary ones were when you’re not in a puck battle and you crosscheck somebody or a high stick. Most of those penalties were the man that was in the puck battle so I really don’t have much of a problem with that.”
Briercrest opened the scoring less than 30 seconds in on the powerplay, but with only minutes remaining in the frame, forward Holden Knights tied the game.
In the second, the Kings took their first lead of the game nearly seven minutes in on the powerplay by forward Erik Miller. With minutes remaining in the middle period, the Clippers answered to head into the third period all square 2-2.
Early in the period, Deegan Mofford retook the lead for the Kings but just minutes after the Clippers tied it 3-3 on the powerplay.
The Kings, however, would have the last laugh and scored the final two goals by Hayden Clayton and Jacob Kendall to seal the deal in front of the home crowd.
“I thought it was good because we stuck to our game plan. I know it’s kind of cliche but sticking to the process we’ve been averaging 40 shots per fame on the opposition and we always try to keep them to single digits per period… There were a lot of penalties in that it was hard to get some flow going. Some guys were sitting for a while but most guys on our team have a role on special teams that they take pride in.”
The Kings went three for 12 on the powerplay but came up big on the penalty kill and only allowed the Clippers two goals on eight powerplay attempts.
“It was just a good battle right until the end. I think we’re maturing as a team we’re learning how to finish the job,” he said.
Kings goaltender Arik Weersink made 12 saves in the victory including multiple important stops in the third period.
Next up for the Kings is a matchup in Edmonton against NAIT on Friday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m.
The Queens were supposed to play at 7 p.m. Saturday night against NAIT but was cancelled. They will play next Saturday, Nov. 12 at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre against Olds College at 7 p.m.