New coach impressed with what he's seen from Queens hockey team
RDC Queens hockey head coach Bob Rutz didn’t have time to watch the Alberta Colleges Women’s Hockey League last season as he was working with the Bentley Generals.
So Rutz, who took control of the Queens from Trevor Keeper, who moved to the Kings, came into camp with his eyes wide open.
“I wasn’t able to follow the team last year because of other coaching commitments, so I came with an open mind and I’ve been extremely impressed with what I’ve seen so far,” he said. “The speed, shooting ability and overall skill level is excellent. The girls impress with the way they battle and compete.
“There’s an overall misconception that females can’t shoot, but not from what I’ve seen.”
Rutz wants the Queens to use that shooting ability this season.
“We want to focus on getting at least 25 to 30 shots a game,” he said.
Rutz’s main goal is to continue to keep the goals against down. Last year the Queens, who lost to NAIT in the conference final, led the league in goals against.
“My philosophy is to build the team from the back end on out and we appear to be solid in goal and on the defence,” he said.
Camille Trautman, who was the top goaltender in the league last season, returns for her third season, with Casey Nicholson, Megan Jones, Rikki Leonard and Morgan Brandl back on the blueline. As well, Cassidy Anderson, whop played with NAIT, has transferred to RDC. The only newcomer to the blueline is Taylor Hall from the Red Deer Sutter Fund major midget chiefs. The new face in goal is Moraih Andrews, who played with Swift Current.
Up front the Queens did lose team scoring leader Gillian Altheim, but have a strong nucleus back including high-scoring Jade Petrie and Ashley Graf. Team captain Rachael Hoppins, who is in her fourth season, and fifth-year veteran Laura Salomons give the team scoring and added experience.
Jayna Kitchen, Emily Lougheed, Jessica Anderson and Jena Holden also return. As well, Suze Vanderlinde, who played with SAIT, has transferred in.
New faces still with the team are Kaylea Renz of Spruce Grove, Hailey Smyl and Micaela Smith from B.C., Cassidy Holt of Lloydminster, who played junior A with the Central Alberta Amazons last year, and Skye Fahlman, who played junior A with Medicine Hat.
The Queens opened camp Tuesday and will compete in the NAIT tournament this weekend. They face the St. FX Academy at 10:30 a.m. and the Lloydminster Steelers at 6 p.m. Saturday and Sherwood Park midgets at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.
Rutz will not only use the games to get the team comfortable with each other on the ice, but he’ll get a chance to fit in as well.
“The previous coaches did a great job of developing these players and taking them to the league final, now it’s my job to take what they’ve created and take it to a league championship,” he said. “
Rutz obviously wants to win this weekend, but will use the games to work on their special teams and see who plays well together in different situations.
“We have a lot of experience and you can see the chemistry already, which makes my job easier. When you have that amount of experience they know the league and what it takes to win.”
l Carlee Ness, who can’t return to the ice because of back problems and a broken leg, has joined the coaching staff along with Wes Makofka and goaltender coach Andy Nowicki . . . The Queens visit the University of Saskatchewan Sept. 14 and the University of Alberta Sept. 21 . . . They open their regular schedule Oct. 24 against Grant MacEwan.