Brent Forster - RDC
Red Deer, AB – Kings goaltender Arik Weersink was excellent Saturday evening against a hard-working Concordia University Thunder team. With 32 saves, including many of a brilliant variety, the second-year goalie from Lethbridge gave the Kings an opportunity to rally from down 2-1 to earn a 4-2 home victory.
"Concordia works really hard and they have some speed," says Head Coach Trevor Keeper. "They put a lot of pressure on you and they played that way last night, but we were a little bit better with the puck last night, and were able to score some goals."
In Friday's game against the Thunder, the RDC Kings had a strong start and they began on the right foot on Saturday evening in the rematch at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre. Only 5:18 into the first period, captain Scott Ferguson entered Concordia's zone, delayed and found defenceman Trevor Costello racing up the right side. The six-foot-five defender snapped it past Garret Storms' stick side. Chase Thudium, a Business Administration student, picked up the other assist.
Before the end of the period, Concordia University tied the game. With 2:27 left on the clock, Peter Tomaras spotted Keegan Tiringer in front and the first-year forward found space high on Arik Weersink's glove side.
Early in the middle frame, the Thunder got the go-ahead goal. On a goal mouth scramble, Tyler Benko cashed in on the power play, providing the visitors a 2-1 edge. The marker sparked the visitors for several minutes but Weersink was outstanding. Then momentum swung back to the Kings in the final stages of the period.
"Tonight, we hit a little bit of adversity in the second period," says Keeper. "We had a penalty and 10 minutes in the box threw our lines out of sync a little bit, but even when we went down 2-1, the guys stayed poised and focused."
With 5:11 left, the RDC Kings were rewarded, evening the contest 2-2. Chase Thudium beat a Concordia defender on the left side and shoveled the puck out front for Scott Ferguson, who redirected the pass behind Storms. Defenceman Tyler Podgorenko picked up the other assist.
"Heading into the third period, we talked about what we need to do to lock it down and it was making safe puck plays," says Keeper. "Talking and communicating and when they did get into our end, we talked about really tight one-one-ones all over the place, eliminating their time in our zone, and the guys were able to do that."
The 3-2 score held for most of the third period.
As Storms started making his way to the bench for the extra skater, Tyler Podgorenko found the open cage with 58 seconds remaining, sealing a 4-2 home win.
Tyler Podgorenko was chosen the Collegiate Sports Medicine Kings Player-of-the-Game. Keegan Tiringer received the honour for the Thunder.
Tyler Podgorenko (3)
With the victory, the RDC Kings (6-1-1-0) remain in first place in the league with 13 points.
The Thunder outshot the Kings 34-25. Weersink impressively stopped 94.1 per cent of Concordia's shots and Keeper was proud of the performance, especially the key saves at important moments.
"That's the important thing - it's not just save percentage and obviously it's not goals against, that's a team stat," says Keeper. "Goaltenders that are clutch make timely saves and that means that sometimes they may go a whole period with six, seven or eight shots and then make a few really key ones in the last few minutes. Weersy's been doing that this year. He's been consistent, but he's been making those timely saves and that just gives the guys another breath of confidence too."
The RDC Kings are breaking the season into six game segments and evaluating their progress.
"Our goal over these next six games, including these two this weekend, was to make sure we grab 12 points," says Keeeper. "We grabbed nine out of the first 12 against some tough opponents and we just want to be consistent this year."
The Kings will have a bye week which is welcome at this stage of the season.
"It's good because we have injuries and guys playing with injuries. We have guys out - Austin Hunter, Lynnden Pastachak, so it will be good to give them time to get healthier," explains Keeper. "During the long school year and season, you need a bit of variety too so we will practice four times this week, but mix it up and do some different things. Maybe add a little bit of fun, but still compete hard and then we get a weekend to rest up next weekend and then get refocused again."
Next, the Red Deer College Kings will play the Portage College Voyageurs (0-7-1-0) on November 15 and 16. The Concordia University Thunder (2-4-1-1) and University of Alberta Augustana Vikings (3-3-0-0) will play a home-and-home series the same weekend.
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Once again, central Alberta hockey fans supported Hockey Fights Cancer through the 50/50 draw.