Brent Forser - RDC
The Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) Men's Hockey best of three quarter-finals opened up at the Penhold Multiplex Friday evening and the RDC Kings got the performance that they were looking for against the Concordia University Thunder. After the Kings went up 2-0 after 20 minutes, they kept the pressure on and eventually rolled to a resounding 8-1 victory.
The Red Deer College Kings had their skating legs early and created several scoring opportunities. On their eleventh shot of the period, defenceman David Heath gave RDC a 1-0 edge at 15:31. The student-athlete from Melita, Manitoba skated into the slot from his defensive position and quickly released a shot behind Tanner McCorriston. Austin Hunter and Landon Kletke had the assists. With Concordia University being tagged with a delayed penalty, the RDC Kings generated pressure in the Thunder's zone and Tyrell Mappin put RDC up by a pair with 15.4 seconds left on the clock. The first-year forward from Big Valley displayed his adept hand-eye coordination and batted the puck out of the air into the back of the net. Lynnden Pastachak and Ben Williams earned the assists. Over 20 minutes, the Kings outshot the Thunder 14-5.
The RDC Kings continued to keep their foot on the gas in the second period. Chase Thudium and Dylan Thudium struck within minutes of each other to give RDC a 4-0 lead. Scott Ferguson assisted on both goals. At 8:31, the Thunder got on the scoreboard with a shorthanded goal. While on the power play, a Kings' defender had his stick break at the Thunder's blueline and Phil Dillon found himself on a breakaway. He made several moves and tucked the puck in on the backhand. On the power play, the Kings quickly responded at 10:49. From in front, Scott Ferguson snapped one by McCorriston on the glove side to restore the four goal lead (5-1). Dylan Thudium and Chase Thudium picked up the assists. With 3:20 remaining, Chase Thudium struck from the left side with a one-timer. After the goal, Garrett Storms replaced McCorriston in net. With 2:51 left, Scott Ferguson put the Kings ahead 7-1. Off a goal mouth scramble, the Business Administration student from Sylvan Lake pounded it past Storms. In the middle frame, the RDC Kings outshot the Thunder 13-5.
The Kings' offence wasn't finished. At 10:52 of the third period, Jacob Wozney gave the Kings an 8-1 lead. The first-year forward from Richmond BC was stationed at the top of the right circle and sniped one by Storms on the blocker side. Austin Hunter and Landon Kletke recorded the assists. Troy Trombley was unbeatable the rest of the way and the Kings earned an impressive 8-1 home win and took a 1-0 lead in the series. In the period, the Kings tested Storms 13 times. Trombley stopped all 7 shots he faced.
Over 60 minutes, Trombley stopped 16 out of 17 shots. (0.941). Storms and McCorriston made 32 saves out of 40 shots (0.800).
Kings Hockey Head Coach Trevor Keeper appreciated the effort and had his players pay attention to the details of the game. "The guys were prepared and they played like it's playoff hockey. We talked about being focused and ready every shift," said Keeper. "Playoffs are all about habits regardless of the score in either direction. You have to do all the little things habitually and do it the right way, and if you do that you will get rewarded."
Perhaps even more impressive than the Kings' eight goal output was their stifling defensive coverage. "Our goal was not to have anyone open. In the D zone, our man-on-puck was tight," said Keeper. "Everyone was on their guy and we got the puck back as quickly as we could."
Tanner Butler (24) was part of a strong defensive corps.
Scott Ferguson was one of the leaders and was named the player-of-the-game for the Kings. Phil Dillon received the award for the Thunder.
The speedy Scott Ferguson-Dylan Thudium-Chase Thudium line had a combined 13 points. Chase Thudium finished with 2 goals and 2 assists, and created many scoring opportunities with a strong forecheck. His brother, Dylan Thudium totaled 1 goal and 3 assists, and was a positive factor all night. Linemate Scott Ferguson was outstanding and recorded 2 goals and 3 assists.
Dylan (13) and Chase (10) Thudium created an effective line with Scott Ferguson.
"Scott had five points and he got rewarded for his work ethic. He used his speed and was going to the net. All of his plays were near the paint. The Thudium brothers and Scott have chemistry," said Keeper. "They played together in minor hockey in Sylvan Lake and you can see it out there. Tonight, everything was flowing their way. It was because they were using their speed and moving the puck quickly to each other. They were creating two-on-ones all over."
Ferguson and the Thudiums were a threat every time they stepped on the ice and the chemistry of the line started to form as kids in central Alberta. "It seemed like everything was going right tonight. Things just came together - we clicked and pucks went in the net so it was nice," said Ferguson. "We've played together in minor hockey and were neighbours for a little bit. We were always communicating with each other and having that bond off the ice helps."
The Kings didn't give the Thunder many offensive opportunities and will look for a similar performance in game two. "We have to do a lot of the same things tomorrow and play consistent," said Ferguson. "Concordia will come out harder at home so we need a really good effort. If we take care of our D zone then things should be pretty good."
The Kings believe game two will be more challenging. "We have to be hungry to end it up there. It will be a more difficult game," said Keeper. "They have Olympic size ice and are used to playing on it. We have to set the tone and do what we did again early, and not take the foot off the gas."
In game two, the Kings will compete against the Thunder, Saturday, March 3 at 8:15 p.m. in Edmonton.