Special teams sway Griffins' decision over Kings

Special teams sway Griffins' decision over Kings

Red Deer, AB - The RDC Kings were tied with visiting MacEwan University Griffins after 20 minutes, but on the strength of the Griffins' power play and an effective penalty kill, the visitors picked up a 6 - 2 win at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre. 

At 2:41, MacEwan's Brett Smythe struck with the man advantage but Chase Thudium tied the contest just over 8 minutes later. Lynnden Pastachak and Dylan Thudium had the assists. Ten seconds later, Nicolas Correale put the Griffins back on top but the Kings eventually responded. With 1:54 remaining in the period, Donovan Lumb beat Marc-Olivier Daigle to pull the Kings even 2 - 2. Ross Heidt and Austin Hunter recorded the helpers. 

In the middle frame, the Griffins added three goals, including one tally on the power play to jump ahead 5 - 2. 

At 13:38 of the third period, Brett Smythe scored his second goal of the game on the power play and MacEwan University finalized a 6 - 2 decision. 

Over 60 minutes, the Griffins went 3-for-8 on the power play. The Kings didn't connect on four opportunities. 

Kings Head Coach Trevor Keeper noted the efficiency of the Griffins' special teams. "The difference in the game was special teams. We gave up eight power plays to them and we only killed five. This weekend, our power play was shut down and we tried juggling our personnel around, and changed our units, trying to get a spark but it didn't work. So back to the drawing board with that," he says. "You are going to hit speed bumps during the year and we just told the guys that after eight games we are sitting at 5 - 2 - 1. We are not happy with this weekend but we have a bye weekend, so we have two weeks to practice and get better."

The defending ACAC champions remained poised when the game was close. "They are a veteran team. They have skill but we think we are just as good as they are. They have good shooters - accurate shooters," says Keeper. "They have good special teams and are very structured. It is just a matter of fine tuning our game and being consistent, and not getting rattled when things don't go well. That was an indication of a team that has been to the finals twice. They didn't get phased and they kept doing their thing, and it broke open for them. This weekend, both times, when we were in tight, we let it slip away from us."

With the win, MacEwan University (6 W - 1 L - 1 OTL) moves into sole possession of first place with 13 points. The Kings sit in second with 11. 

The RDC Kings (5 W - 2 L - 1 T) enter their bye week and will be in action on Friday, November 9 against the Portage College Voyageurs (2 - 4 - 0) at 7:00 p.m. in Lac La Biche. Then on Saturday, the two teams will face-off at 1:00 p.m.