Griffins 4 Kings 2
PENHOLD — The Red Deer College Kings (6-7-0-1) are developing a frustrating habit of out playing their competition, but coming out on the wrong side of the score.
It happened in both of their Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference men’s hockey games this week as they played well enough to win, but dropped both games to the MacEwan University Griffins (9-2-0-3), including 4-2 on Saturday night in Penhold. The night before they lost 3-2 in Edmonton, despite outshooting the Griffins 41-26.
“The good thing is we’re playing well … we’re doing the right things, we’re just not getting rewarded yet,” said Kings head coach Trevor Keeper. “The hardest thing to learn is to learn how to win games, usually it comes as the season progresses and that’s what we need to do right now.”
Tyler McCalpin, Nolan Yaremchuk, Blake Grainger and Stephan Zipp all scored for MacEwan while Chris Wray made 28 saves for the win.
Nick Bell and Blair Mulder replied with a pair of third period goals for the Kings while Mike Salmon stopped 23 shots in the defeat.
The Kings effectively controlled most of the game, but untimely breakdowns killed them and then were unable to get a big save when they needed it.
The Griffins took a 1-0 lead into the second period on McCalpin’s marker and Yaremchuk stretched the lead to two goals at 1:49 of the second period, snapping a wrist shot past Salmon that appeared to handcuff the goalie.
RDC finally got on the scoreboard 53 seconds into the third period as Bell put a short-handed goal past Wray. But Grainger put the lead back up to two goals off a turnover at the RDC blue-line that turned into a three-on-two rush, and he sniped the puck over Salmon’s shoulder.
Mulder made it 3-2, finishing off a cross-crease pass from Clay Petrie at 16:08 on the power play. But that’s as close as they got as Zipp iced the game with an empty-netter.
The Kings finished 1-for-7 on the power play while killing off all eight Griffins man advantages while also scoring once short-handed.
RDC’s penalty kill has been superb the past month, having allowed just one goal against on their last 35 opportunities, though their power play has struggled the last four games with a 2-for-22 mark.
“We out played them for most of both games, outshot them, our power play scored each game, we were 100 per cent in the penalty kill and usually you get rewarded with a win,” said Keeper.
“We had a few little letdowns that were costly, and it was a shift here or there that made the difference in both of those games.”
The Kings have a golden opportunity to turn things around this weekend with a home-and-home series with the last-place Portage Voyagers (1-12-0-1), in Lac La Biche on Friday at 7 p.m. and at the Penhold Regional Multiplex on Saturday at 7 p.m.
But Keeper is not taking anything for granted.
“It’s a tough road trip, we just have to keep playing like we’re playing and eliminate the two or three shifts where we have lapses,” he said. “Regardless of who the competition is, we need to get some consistency going in our game for the whole game.”