Kings 4 Voyageurs 1
The Red Deer Polytechnic Kings hockey team is on a roll.
After a 6-3 win against the Portage College Voyageurs Friday, they capped off a successful weekend in Alberta Colleges Athletic Association play, by beating them in a rematch 4-1.
Kings Ryland McNinch scored twice on Saturday while Jacob Wozney and Dylan Esau each scored to lift Red Deer to the weekend sweep at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre. Goaltender Arik Weersink was solid between the pipes making 20 saves in the win.
Head coach Trevor Keeper said postgame his team has been playing well since the start of the second half. The Kings have won five of their last seven and have moved into first place in the ACAC men’s hockey standings with a 12-6 record.
“We won on every Friday and we let a couple of games slide on Saturdays,” Keeper said. “We talked about this last night that when you beat a team Friday night they want to come back and get you on Saturday. We made sure we had the intensity and the focus we needed to close out the weekend series.
“We’re trying not to put the pressure on ourselves to worry about being in first. That’s where we want to finish, no doubt… We are just focusing on one game at a time so we don’t worry about losing. We just want to keep those horse blinders on and keep going forward and keep everyone behind us.”
On Friday Nolan Doell scored a hat trick and Jacob Kendall scored two to lead the way for the Kings. Deegan Mofford also scored and goaltender Kristian Lyon made 14 saves in the victory.
That same night the Kings’ powerplay went four for four but on Saturday something changed for Red Deer as they only converted on one-man advantage on seven opportunities.
“They were putting more pressure on standing us up on the blue line. We talked about at the end just depositing the puck behind their defenceman getting into the zone. Once we’re in the zone we have lots of puck movement and shots,” Keeper added.
With only six games left in the regular season, the Kings will hope to continue their strong play in the second half and hold on to the top spot in the standings. However, what Keeper thinks makes this team special is their depth.
“Guys take turns taking the lead. [Friday] night Nolan Doell got three but tonight Ninch got a couple. Our powerplay scored at the end to give us a cushion so it’s not just the regular guys,” Keeper explained.
Red Deer has rotated between Weersink and Lyon in net this season and so far it’s paid off for them. Weersink has played the most games with a 7-5 record posting 2.96 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage. Meanwhile, Lyon has appeared in just two games and with a 1-1 record he’s averaged 3.28 GAA and a .928 save percentage.
“Defensively everybody is working and competing hard on the defensive side of the puck too. It’s a solid team effort.”