Rode

Rode: RDP Kings Hockey forward Jacob Kendall wins ACAC scoring race

Kings take on Briercrest College Clippers in ACAC Playoffs on Friday

It’s not often your see a forward move back to defence late in a season and go on to win a scoring title.

That was exactly what Jacob Kendall did for the RDP Kings this season.

Kendall was asked with about a month remaining in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference Men’s Hockey League season if he was willing to help out on the back end because of injuries. He was more than willing to give it a try and all he did was pick up six points over the final four games, to finish with nine goals and 12 assists in 16 games and win the scoring race by two points over a pair of NAIT Ooks players.

“I’m a forward by nature but we had some D-men go down with injuries and I said why not,” he explained. “It just seemed to come natural to me. It doesn’t for everyone but it worked out.

“What I did do is gain more respect for the D-men. Going back for the pucks you learn how it actually sucks,” he said with a laugh.

But at six-foot-two, 200-pounds, Jacob has the size to handle anyone in the league, whether it’s as a forward or defenceman.

“Early in my junior career (with the Camrose Kodiaks) I played more of a rough game before I settled into more of a role with the team. But I don’t back away from that role … I’m comfortable with it.”

Kings head coach Trevor Keeper was impressed at how well Kendall handled playing a new position.

“We asked him if he’d give it a try as we were kind of out of options and he did a great job. He’s really good rushing the puck and has a couple of good moves. He is a big body so once he gets a head of steam he’s hard to control.”

Kendall, who was born and raised in Camrose and played four years with the Kodiaks before being traded to the Sherwood Park Crusaders midway through his final junior season, was a point producer later in his junior career. He had 27 goals and 24 helpers in 56 games with Camrose in the 2018-19 season and then added 24 goals and 17 assists in 49 games the following year while splitting time between the two junior teams.

“Later in my time with Camrose a little more was expected of me offensively,” he said. “I like to think I’m a point-a-game guy. This year the 21 points was more than I expected but if you bury your chances you get rewarded.”

Keeper wasn’t surprised to see the offence from Kendall.

“He did a great job … was very consistent from the outset. He has the personality needed to handle all situations … to handle what speed bumps come along. If he makes a mistake he laughs it off and doesn’t dig himself into a hole like some others will. He stays focused on what he needs to do.

“I kind of expected Jacob, (Erik) Miller and (Tucker) Scantlebury to provide some offence. They did a good job as younger players along with several veterans.”

“Overall it’s been a good year,” added Kendall as the Kings prepare to open the ACAC playoffs Friday at home against Briercrest Clippers.

“After being shut down last year it was good to get back and it was good to see all the work paid off.”

Kendall was at RDC last season but only was able to practice.

“It was tough for sure, but it was the same for everyone,:” he added. “The thing is we got rid of any nagging injuries and had plenty of time to rest, plus everyone was hungry to get back playing this year. I know that first exhibition game against the U of A we were all pretty excited and it carried over the rest of the year.”

Jacob is taking Education and hopes to get into the middle school program next season, meaning he’ll be around for several years.

“If not I’ll have to transfer to the U of A and if I do I’ll try to play with the Bears,” he said. “But my heart is with the Kings and I want to stay here.”

The Kings host the Clippers in the best-of-three ACAC quarter-final Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 5 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., if needed. A win and they’ll face Concordia in the semifinals.

It will be busy at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre Friday as the hockey Queens host Olds at 5 p.m. as they finish their regular season and the basketball Kings clash with Briercrest at 6 p.m. in the South Division quarter-final.

Sunday will see both volleyball teams in South Division semifinal action as the Queens play at 2 p.m., followed by the Kings. Both teams meet the winner of the SAIT and Lethbridge quarter-finals.

A win by the Queens and they host the ACAC Final Four March 11 and 12. The men’s Final Four will be hosted by the North Division.

Meanwhile the basketball Queens travel to Medicine Hat Friday for their South quarter-final. The winner plays at St. Mary’s University in Calgary.

Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter and member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame who can be reached at danrode@shaw.ca

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