Kings 7 Clippers 6 (OT)
Flair for the dramatics might be an understatement.
The Red Deer Polytechnic Kings hockey team didn’t make it easy on themselves in their Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference home opener Friday night at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.
After going ahead 2-0 in the first period, the Kings allowed six straight goals to the Briercrest College Clippers and were in a deep hole midway through the second period.
Kings fourth-year captain Tyler Poderenko capped off an epic comeback during 3-on-3 double overtime, scoring with 1:43 left on a great individual effort when he captured his own rebound and slipped a backhand past Billy Cawthorn.
“He’s had a lower-body injury and he just got cleared to play this week. He’s a little rusty. Tried to keep him positive and focus on what he’s good at doing,” said Kings coach Trevor Keeper about the 7-6 victory.
“He can stick handle in a phonebooth and at the end, he did that in front of their goaltender. In overtime, we’ve always had the philosophy of being creative and going for it… I could see on the bench from the body language, no one was worried about ‘I hope we win’ I could tell they knew they were going to get it done.”
After a strong first period, a big problem for the Kings in the second period was the penalty kill, which allowed three goals in less than 12 minutes in the middle frame.
Down 6-2 in the second, Keeper said the message was simple.
“The message started when we were down 5-2, burned my timeout and we just talked about putting forecheck pressure on them and being tougher in the one-on-ones. Trying to get to the net a little bit more so that you’re ready for rebounds,” Keeper said.
Third-year forward Chance Longjohn and Tucker Scantlebury got the Kings within two before the end of the second.
“In the intermission between the second and third, we talked about not worrying about winning, worrying about the things that are going to get us there– the building blocks,” Keeper said.
“I thought we picked up our forecheck and our physical play.”
Scantlebury added a tally 49 seconds into the third and it took the entire third period before the Kings found the equalizer. With the goalie out and less than two minutes to play, Jacob Kendall drove wide and found Ryley Smith in front for the game-tying goal.
The Kings outshot the Clippers 54-24.
Keeper added that it was nice to have fans back in the rink to watch games after they played most of the preseason without spectators.
“It’s been so long. We played our seven preseason games but it’s not the same. It’s regular season, points mean a lot,” Keeper said.
“You could just feel that energy. That helps too when you’re at home and you’re fighting your way from a deficit. You get to overtime and double overtime, the fans definitely help with that too. It was a nice place to be back at.”