Brent Forster – RDC
Red Deer, AB – The Red Deer College Kings hit the ice at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre knowing they had to win to continue the best of three semi-final against the MacEwan University Griffins, and ultimately their season. After the opening two periods were tight, the Kings started to take control in the third period and used that momentum to down the Griffins 1-0 in overtime. The home victory evened the semi-final at one game apiece, sending the series back to Edmonton for a third and final contest.
Over the opening 40 minutes, both teams were sound defensively and the two goaltenders rose to the occasion when called upon. Troy Trombley was busier than Marc-Olivier Daigle, turning aside all 27 shots. Daigle made 15 saves to keep the game scoreless.
"It was a tight game and we were down in the shot clock. We knew that if we were going to win we would have to catch up and pass them," said Kings Head Coach Trevor Keeper. "In between periods we set a goal of getting a shot a shift and generally that will get you 15 to 20 shots. Sometimes, that's a bit lofty, but we ended up outshooting them in the third period."
The Kings increased their offensive chances in the final 20 minutes, outshooting the Griffins 12-4, but both netminders were unbeatable. Momentum started to sway in favour of the home team.
In the first overtime period, the RDC Kings capitalized on the power play. The Kings' defence kept a Griffins' clearing attempt inside the blue line, and Lynnden Pastachak set up Chase Thudium for the one-timer. Daigle stopped the initial shot but Dylan Thudium pounced on the rebound at 6:07, giving the home team a 1-0 victory.
"It was a loose puck and a really nice pass to Chase back door for a one-t. I was just standing in front hoping for a rebound, or getting in the way, or a tip," said Dylan Thudium. "It popped out and sat there right for me, so it was one of the easier goals I scored."
The Kings have played well in overtime and they stuck to their game plan. "When it goes to overtime you have to play like you're not afraid to lose and just go for it. Get to the net. Get extra shots," said Keeper. "Third guy jumping in, fourth guy jumping in and just get back hard. The key is to keep the shifts short and the guys did that, and they were rewarded."
Dylan Thudium was selected as the Kings Player-of-the-Game. Andrew Kartusch was recognized for the Griffins.
While Keeper didn't think the Thudium brothers were getting the breaks in the early stages, they were in fine form in the third period and overtime. "The puck wasn't bouncing really well for them in the first couple periods. They had a little bit out of sync thing going on," he said. "Their line talked to each other in between periods. They settled down and started communicating more on the bench, and then on the ice. When they do that, skilled players will find a way to get open at the right time."
The brothers' style of play complements each other, and they push each other to constantly fine tune their games. "The biggest thing is Chase is shoot first and I'm pass first, so there's that. We talk a lot. We drive back to Sylvan every day and we talk about hockey," said Dylan Thudium. "In practice we work on certain things and communication is the biggest part. We hold each other accountable too. We are on each other if something is being missed or it wasn't the right play. We can be too hard on each other sometimes, but I think it's a big reason why it works so well."
Trombley was superb in net, stopping all 33 shots for the shutout. Daigle made 33 saves out of 34 shots.
Troy Trombley (36) Pic - Tony Hansen
The Red Deer College Kings connected once out of three power plays. The Griffins went 0-for-2.
The coaching staff and Kings will be ready for game three. "We don't care where we play. We worked hard all year to get to this position. We know what we need to do tomorrow," said Keeper. "Yesterday we had a bad second period and we cleaned that up today. We have to forget about the win - forget about the loss, and go up there and it's one game takes all to move on."
The NAIT Ooks defeated the SAIT Trojans 2-1 in game one of their series.
On Saturday at 6:00 p.m., the RDC Kings will face-off against the MacEwan University Griffins in Edmonton in the final game of the best of three semi-final.