As far as first seasons go, the Red Deer College Kings can look back and be satisfied with what was accomplished in 2103/2014.
“In some ways we overachieved from what was maybe realistic at the beginning,” said Head Coach Trevor Keeper. “It was tough bringing in 25 new guys and not knowing what they were going to be all about.”
The Kings hit the ice for the first time following a nine year absence from the ACAC hockey scene and posted a 20 win season against veteran teams like NAIT and SAIT and made it to the league semi final before bowing out.
Along with the on ice success Keeper said the entire team did quite well in the classroom with not one player failing out.
“One of the things I’m proud of is out of the 25 guys recruited, 13 of them are on the academic honour roll which is a 3.0 out of a 4.0 GPA.”
The Kings faced a unique challenge in that this group of players were unknown for the most part to each other and so there were some speed bumps during the first part of the season as they tried to find the chemistry needed to be a successful team.
“There were some times when they had to come to the coaching staff for advice where on other teams when you have second, third, fourth, maybe even fifth year guys, the team can take care of some of those chemistry relationship things.”
Keeper essentially handpicked this group so he had a template to work from in his mind which included speed and work ethic from his players and he felt the Kings were in the top three teams in the league when it came to those skills.
“So what we need to do moving forward is get a little bit grittier, a little bit tougher, a little harder to play against in some areas in some positions and keep upgrading.”
Keeper has been busy doing player meetings in preparation for next season and he feels a large majority of these players will be back wearing the RDC colours.
“I’m being very selective in my recruiting and that might mean someone who is here might not be in the picture but I’m being honest with the players right up front,” he said.
Keeper says the community support for the team was amazing and he feels a lot of eyes were opened about the quality of college hockey so the Kings aim to keep raising the bar and maybe raising a championship banner at some point.