There were times during the 2016-17 Alberta Colleges Women’s Hockey League season when RDC Queens head coach Kelly Coulter had to move several forwards back to fill out the roster on defence.
He’s making sure that won’t be the case this season.
Coulter has five new defencemen committed for the 2017-18 season to go along with possibly four veterans, including team MVP Cassidy Anderson.
“Originally we weren’t sure we’d need that many new players on defence, but with Rikki (Smith) graduating and Teagan (Borbandy) moving to the University of Saskatchewan it was an area we needed to address,” said Coulter during his weekend invitational prospect camp at the Collicutt Centre.
“It means Wes (defensive coach Makofka) will have his work cut out for him.”
But Coulter is more than pleased with the new faces coming in.
“The new girls on the back end will add size, skill and speed,” he said.
Besides Anderson, who had five goals and six assists in 23 games last season, Coulter could have Landry Derdall, Kailey Butz and Kirsten Baumgardt returning.
Newcomers include five-foot-11 Victoria Johnston of the Northern Capitals in B.C., Marisa Fraser from Central Plains in Manitoba, Sydnee DeCorby of the Manitoba Yellowhead Chiefs, Catherine Longchamps from the Rocky Mountain Raiders and Shelby Ballan from Swift Current.
Up front the Queens lost team scoring leader Ashley Graf along with Jessica Anderson and Suze Vanderlinde to graduation.
“Other than that we hope to have everyone back,” said Coulter. “Although it’s not 100 per cent for sure, but it looks like Julie Morrell, Emily Swier and Jade Petrie will return, which is huge for us. I couldn’t be happier.”
The Queens will have six new faces up front with the addition of Karissa Cullum of Yellowhead, Janessa Fournier from Swift Current, Jordyn Burgar and Camryn Wallan of the Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs, Neisha Germann of Lloydminster and Nicole Spinks, who is from Edmonton and played at Notre Dame.
“We couldn’t be happier with the quality of hockey player we have committed and just as important the quality of the person,” said Coulter.
“We’re excited with the skill and size of the players we signed.
“They all bring a different and important quality to the table.”
Coulter likes the fact he has at least two players off the Sutter Fund Chiefs committed.
“The local program does an excellent job and we’re pleased to get players like Jordyn and Camryn into our program.Camryn is excellent in the faceoff circle and plays with tenacity while Jordyn is a dynamic type player. As well we had a number of players born in 2000 and 2001 here this weekend and we’re happy with the level of talent we see and excited about what that hopefully means to the Queens program down the road.”
One player who wasn’t at camp, because of injury, and Coulter would be interested in is Alberta Midget Elite scoring champion Danica Polson of Ponoka, who played with the Chiefs.
Other forwards returning include Kaely McMurtry, Morgan Fraser, Kirsten Brown, Breanna Martin, Keinyn Nordell, Kaci Jones and Chanelle Petrie.
Coulter will also have Jen West and Tracie Kikuchi back in goal.
Coulter is also coach of North Grey in the Alberta Challenge, May 4-7 in Olds. The tournament is open to players born in 2002 and 2003. Players from North of Red Deer make up the three Northern teams and players from Red Deer South are on the southern squads.
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.