Special teams help Kings shelf Trojans

Colby Brochu Photography
Colby Brochu Photography

Brent Forster - RDC

Red Deer, AB - With a balanced attack and strong special teams, the RDC Kings downed the SAIT Trojans 6-3 at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre, remaining in a tie for first place.

The Kings had a great start and it was a power play goal from a talented defenceman that provided an early edge at 4:29. Dylan Baer skated into the middle of the ice in SAIT's zone and wristed one past Trojans' goaltender Jordan Cartney with traffic in front, for his fourth goal in two games. Ryley Smith had the lone assist. Less than three minutes later, SAIT's Brendan Bartlett fired a shot from the left side that eluded Troy Trombley for the 1-1 equalizer. Within a 2 minute 37 second span, a one-timer from Tanner Butler on the man advantage and a backhander by Anthony Neurauter provided RDC a two goal cushion (3-1).

Tanner Butler (24) Colby Brochu Photography

At 9:01 of the middle frame, Ryley Smith put the Kings ahead 4-1. The six-foot-one forward received a nice pass out front, depositing it past Cartney. Chance Longjohn and Mike Statchuk earned the assists. Then in a four and a half minute span, Colton McCarthy and Zach McNeill pulled the Trojans within one. The Kings remained composed and restored a two goal lead before the period expired. Kyle Salaway was the benefactor of a nice passing play from Tyrell Mappin and Lynnden Pastachak, and the left winger from Estevan, Saskatchewan found an open cage past a scrambling Cartney. 

Mike Statchuk (4) Colby Brochu Photography

The Kings' 5-3 lead remained in tact for the majority of the third. Cartney was eventually pulled for the extra skater and Austin Hunter capitalized with 1:07 remaining to help the Kings cap off a 6-3 win at home.

Cartney made 30 saves on 35 shots. Trombley was strong once again between the pipes. The RDC Management Certificate student turned aside 95 per cent of the Trojans' attempts.

Statchuk (4) and Trombley (36) Colby Brochu Photography

Trevor Keeper, Kings Head Coach, worked with his team during the week on special teams and the attention to detail paid off. "Our focus at practice this week was on special teams. SAIT has a good penalty kill and power play. They score a lot of goals on the power play so we worked on that all four days at practice," he says. "We broke it down and I thought we were good tonight. Our power play generated a lot of chances. We broke out and entered the zone, got set up and were rewarded with two goals on five power plays. Our penalty kill worked on some new things too and they put it together. We watched a lot of video on SAIT's power play and the big thing on our penalty kill was not allowing SAIT to enter the zone tonight. They didn't get a lot of opportunities to get in, and get set up. That was one of the key areas to the game."

With the extra skater, the Trojans went 0-for-4 while the Kings clicked at 40 per cent efficiency.

It was difficult for the Trojans to key on only one line with many RDC student-athletes chipping in. "We had six different scorers and contributions from all lines. We feel we have four balanced lines and three pairs of defencemen," says Keeper. "There were a few speed bumps and Trombley made some timely saves. It was an overall strong effort from our whole roster tonight." 

Anthony Neurauter was selected as the Kings Player-of-the-Game and Zach McNeil picked up the honour for the Trojans.

Keeper is expecting SAIT to push back in Saturday's rematch but feels comfortable heading on the road. "Tomorrow, they will play harder. They always play well there but over the years we have played really well at the SAIT Arena," he says. "Our guys seem to like it and we had a really good preseason game there. We won 6-2. The big thing is we will have to be refocused, hit the reset button and do everything that we did tonight while cleaning up a few little areas, and we will be successful."

The Kings remain in a tie for top spot with the MacEwan University Griffins with 17 points. SAIT, NAIT and Augustana are deadlocked with 14 points. 

On Saturday, November 17, the RDC Kings (8-2-0-1) will challenge the SAIT Trojans (7-4-0-0) at 7:00 p.m. in Calgary.