PENHOLD – It’s no surprise that RDC Kings coach Trevor Keeper is a bit frustrated.
Following Saturday’s 5-1 loss to the SAIT Trojans at the Penhold Regional Multiplex the Kings are winless in six straight Alberta Colleges Men’s Hockey League games.
“It is frustrating to see the scoresheet the way it was,” he said. “Everything that could go right for them went right and we make a couple of mistakes and it cost us, on their third and fourth goals.
“Even in the third period we have 17 shots on goal and I thought 13 of them were quality chances and several from the slot, but their goaltender (former Red Deer Rebel Bolton Pouliot) was unbelievable.”
The teams were scoreless after 20 minutes with both Pouliot and Kings netminder Kraymer Barnstable, who is also a former Rebel, excelling.
The Kings outshot the Trojans 13-6 in the second period and were more than a little unlucky as they hit a post and the crossbar. But the Trojans managed to grab a 1-0 lead on Mitch Board’s breakaway goal at 9:44.
The Trojans gained control of the game early in the third period when Ryan Caswell scored on a second rebound at 1:31 and Craig Gans scored on a screened shot from the point at 4:34.
Ben Williams got the Kings on the board at 16:11, beating Pouliot on a scramble. However, Jari Erricson connected at 17:13 and Riley Peterson scored into an empty net at 18:18.
Despite the loss Keeper felt there were more positives than negatives.
“I felt that was our best game of the year in how we forechecked, how we counter-attacked in the neutral zone and how we generated quality scoring chances.
“We did a lot of things right and I wish we could have been rewarded on the scoresheet. But the important thing is to continue to play like that the rest of the month and up to the playoffs.”
As of now the Kings, who have six games remaining, are holding down the sixth and final playoff spot with 27 points, but only one out of third place, shared by SAIT, Keyano and Grant MacEwan. However, the Kings are only four points ahead of Portage.
The Kings also have two games in hand on SAIT and MacEwan.
“We’re shooting for third place and have a good chance as it’s such a log jam,” said Keeper. “But regardless where we finish the playoffs are a best-of-three and we have to be better for 48 hours. ”
The six-game winless streak has to be on everyone’s mind, but Keeper feels confident if they continue to play like they did Friday they will snap it shortly.
“If we were winning by a goal or two and playing average hockey I would be more worried,” he said.
The Kings finished with 42 shots on Pouliot, who was the SAIT player of the game, while Barnstable faced 30.
The Kings face Grant MacEwan in a home-and-home series next week – Friday in Edmonton and Saturday in Penhold. They clash with Portage on the road Feb. 19 and at home Feb. 20.