Griffins 2 Queens 1
When Brandi Buss sat down during the summer to decide what road her hockey career would take this season it wasn’t a difficult decision.
The Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs grad could have attended the University of Alberta, but felt her career would best be served by attending Red Deer College and playing with the Queens.
“I felt there was more opportunity for me to develop as a player here. I knew I’d get a lot of playing time to work on what I need to work on and it’s been great,” said the17-year-old native of Ponoka. “I probably wouldn’t have had the playing time with the Pandas.”
Buss has the talent to play at the university level down the road and she showed some of that Thursday despite the Queens dropping a 2-1 decision to the Grant MacEwan University Griffins in the Alberta Colleges Women’s Hockey League season opener at the Arena.
Although she turned in a solid performance, Buss felt she’ll only get better.
“It’s certainly a lot different game than midget and even the exhibition season and it took me a couple of shifts to get the jitters out,” she said. “I think I have to be a little more heads up. I see the ice well on my side of the blueline, but once I move the puck out I need to make smarter passes. I also need to work on my offensive decisions.”
While Buss felt she could play even better that was the case with the whole team.
“I was very disappointed in our effort,” said Queens head coach Rob Weddell. “Our pass reception was horrible, our decision making was slow and we need better communication between our defensive partners. It certainly didn’t look like the same team we saw in some of the preseason games.”
The Queens never did get into a good flow as they struggled against the Griffins forecheck, and weren’t able to attack the Grant MacEwan zone with speed.
“The forwards didn’t do a good job of pass receiving and when we did get into the mid-zone we didn’t use our speed,” said Weddell. “We’d try to do a bunch of moves instead of going wide and attacking their zone. I know we’ll be working on attacking their net in practice tomorrow.”
The Queens grabbed an early 1-0 when Amber Graham beat goaltender Alycia Monahan at 1:28 of the first period. But the lead didn’t last long as the Griffins took advantage of a turnover deep in the RDC zone and Jillian Mathieson bounced a close-in shot in off RDC netminder Kaitlyn Chapman at 3:39. Bianca Zuber of Olds scored what proved to be the winning goal at 1:31 of the middle stanza when she found the top corner on a screened shot from the right circle.
The Queens finished with 24 shots on Monahan while Chapman made 20 saves.
The teams meet again Saturday in Leduc while the Queens return home Thursday against Mount Royal.