PENHOLD — It’s never too early in a season for a head coach to get on his players about discipline.
Red Deer College Kings head coach Trevor Keeper did that follow their 4-2 loss to the University of Alberta Augustana Vikings on Thursday in Penhold in Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference men’s hockey exhibition action.
Augustana got two goals from Matthew Foster and single markers from Beau Taylor and Scott Swiston while Andy Williams made 31 saves in net.
Doug Jones and Riley Point responded for RDC while Kraymer Barnstable made 19 saves in the loss.
Two power play goals against on six opportunities killed the Kings, and wiped out a solid all-round performance.
“Some of those calls were maybe a little on the soft side, but that doesn’t matter, we have to find a way not to take six penalties,” said Keeper.
RDC showed they more than capable on their power-play chances, scoring on one of two opportunities, with Jones finishing off a two-on-one, burying a rebound to open the scoring at 9:41 of the first period.
But the Vikings own power-play unit got them back in the game.
Foster tied the game at 9:31 of the second period with the man-advantage, chipping a rebound up and over Barnstable.
Taylor gave Augustana the lead 45 seconds later, taking a stretch pass behind the Kings’ defence and beating Barnstable with a deke.
Point managed to tie the game at 2:21 of the third period, but Foster scored his second power-play goal at 12:53, taking the puck from behind the net and popping it over an outstretched Barnstable. Augustana never looked back, as Swiston iced it at 19:00.
But this is just the third exhibition game of the season, and until now the Kings have just practiced their special teams once.
“Special teams is huge, in college hockey it wins and loses games,” said Keeper. “Our power play, we have enough talent to execute even now; penalty killing is a different story — everybody is getting used to what they’re doing together and they’re not used to what the other team is doing.”
RDC also had their opportunities to score, including a botched three-man breakaway in the second and outshooting Augustana 12 to six in the third period, but just could not beat Williams.
“We feel we outplayed them, that’s all that team has to offer and we feel we have a lot more in the tank still to give them in the regular season,” said Jones.
The Kings were also down seven of their main players who were watching from the stands as Keeper sorts through roster decisions. Defenceman Joel Topping was one of those forced to watch from the stands, serving a one-game suspension for being third man in during a fight in Calgary in their 6-2 win over SAIT last Friday.
“There’s a lot of competition, we don’t know (about lines),” said Keeper. “We have an idea about some of the guys, but we have so many talent guys out of the lineup and we’re playing with spots right now, it’s not really set yet.”
This weekend, the Kings are back down in Calgary to play in the SAIT pre-season tournament. They will take on the Bentley Generals — a team they beat 5-1 last year at the tournament — tonight at 8 p.m. and then play the Simon Fraser University Clan on Saturday at 3 p.m.
“We played Bentley last year and that was a great test for us, I’m sure they’re eager to play us again this year after the results of last year,” said Jones.
“It’s definitely going to get us ready for the regular season to come out flying.”
NOTES — The RDC Queens hockey team lost 2-0 to Canadian Interuniversity Sport’s Mount Royal Cougars at the Red Deer Arena on Thursday. Stats were not available at press time.