Lack of a quick start hinders Queens against Trojans

RDC Queens head coach Kelly Coulter has been on his team all season

Trojans 3 Queens 2

RDC Queens head coach Kelly Coulter has been on his team all season about getting off to a quicker start, especially at home.

Their inability to come out ready to play did them in once again Thursday as they dropped a 3-2 decision to the SAIT Trojans in Alberta Colleges Women’s Hockey League play at the Centrium.

The win hurt in more ways than one as it may have cost them a chance to finish first heading into the playoffs.

If the Queens won their final two games against the Trojans — Thursday and Saturday at SAIT — they would finish first. Now they need to win Saturday to assure themselves of at least second place.

They sit three points up on both MacEwan University, who has two games remaining, and NAIT, who has three games left.

NAIT defeated Olds 4-1 Thursday and will finish first if they defeat Olds Saturday and sweep SAIT next weekend. MacEwan faces Olds in their final two league games.

“You can’t win hockey games when you’re getting six shots on net,” said Coulter.

“We had a lot of turnovers in the D zone and we didn’t generate any speed through the neutral zone. Unfortunately we had a lot of passengers on the bus and not many willing to lead and be drivers.

“I’m not sure why our starts are so flat. The girls should know they have a target on their backs as defending champions and should come ready to play.”

The Queens spent most of the early portion of the first period in their zone as they struggled to complete passes and move the puck with authority. However, they seemed to get a break when they went on the power play at 1:41. That backfired as Taylor Beck scored her first goal of the season for the Trojans while shorthanded.

Shealee Dolan of Rimbey made it 2-0 at 12:54 during a scramble and the Trojans held a 12-6 edge in shots in the period.

The second period wasn’t much better as the Queens were outshot 16-4, but a breakaway goal by Julia Murrell at 8:05, while shorthanded, made it 2-1. However, Dolan notched her seventh goal of the season at 12:51.

Tracie Kikuchi came in to start the third period in goal for RDC, replacing Jen West, who couldn’t be blamed for the loss. Kikuchi, who received the Al Ferchuk Women’s Hockey Leadership scholarship prior to the game, made 11 saves and Jade Petrie narrowed the gap with a spectacular goal at 12:29. Petrie was hauled down on a breakaway, but got a shot on goal and then scored her 10th of the season, on the rebound while on her back and sliding past the net,.

Overall the Queens were outshot 39-18.

“We had a lot of chances, but didn’t get shots on net,” said Coulter. “We had some weak shots from the point and didn’t create traffic in front. Our plan was to get shots on her (Elisha Oswald), but we strayed from that.”

• The Queens honoured fifth-year players — Ashley Graf, Rikki Smith, Jessica Anderson and Suze Vanderlinde — prior to the game, giving them jerseys.

Earlier in the week Coulter added two new players for next year — forward Nicole Spinks out of the Notre Dame Hounds, and defenceman Marisa Fraser of the Central Plains midget AAA team in Manitoba.

Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at drode@bprda.wpengine.com. His work can also be seen at Danny’s blog at rdcathoetics.ca

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