Hockey Queens’ top line clicking on all cylinders

Thump Olds Broncos 6-1 at Centrium Thursday

Queens 6 Broncos 1

The RDC Queens went into the Alberta Colleges Women’s Hockey League season with one of the premier lines in the conference.

The line of Ashley Graf between Jade Petrie and Emily Swier has been together for more than 10 years, beginning in minor hockey and moving to the Queens five years ago.

The trio didn’t get off to a great start this season, but all indications are they’re once again clicking on all cylinders.

Graf scored three times and added an assist, Swier had a goal and three helpers and Petrie one assist as the Queens dumped the Olds Broncos 6-1 at the Centrium Thursday.

“I think this is the first game were we’ve had fun,” said Graf, who moved into the league scoring lead with five goals and eight assists.

Petrie is second with four goals and 10 points and Swier tied for third with two goals and seven helpers.

“We know how to play together as we’ve been together for over 10 years but we just haven’t gelled until tonight.

“This is the first game, and we had fun with it.”

Graf scored once in each of the first two periods as the Queens led 1-0 and 2-0. The Queens then added four goals in the first 5:31 of the third period.

Swier connected after only 35 seconds, Hanna Matchett got the Broncos on the board at 2:57 but Julia Murrell connected at 3:17, Keinyn Nordell at 3:41 and Graf at 5:31.

Nikki Grandinetti started in goal for the Broncos and allowed five goals on 29 shots before giving way to Catalina Hartland at 3:41. Hartland allowed Graf’s hat trick goal but kept the game as close as it was.

Alex Frisk went the distance for the Queens, making 14 saves, including a pair of outstanding legs saves in the final minute.

“The first period it was back and forth but then I found the girls started to find their rhythm and groove,” said Queens head coach Kelly Coulter. “The line of Ash, Em and Jade was very good … all our lines played well, but that was a very good performance by them.

“I thought we started passing better the second and third periods as well and that really helped our game.”

One wouldn’t say Graf’s goalies were fancy, but she was in position in front. She shot the first from the low slot, deflected the second and jammed home a rebound on the third.

“I don’t know how to score a pretty goal,” she said with a laugh. “I wouldn’t get any without my linemates. We work well together and feed off each other. And in the end it doesn’t matter who scores.”

Coulter has been talking more and more about getting traffic to the net and working on deflections.

“As I’ve said the goalies in this league are so good you need to take their eyes away and get more traffic in front. You look at Murrell’s goal. Brea Martin didn’t give up on the play and she was rewarded by setting up Julia.”

Graf likes the fact the whole team is contributing.

“As a team we’re all starting to trust each other and we’re meshing as a team,” she said. “We’ve thrown the rookie thing out the window. We all get along in the room, on the ice and away from the rink. It’s a good room when everyone gets along.”

The Queens are also adjusting well to the Centrium.

“We’re readjusting to the heat,” Graf said. “We were also away for three weeks and so it’s nice to be back.”

The Queens, 8-3-1 are in the midst of a five games in an 11 day stretch. They visit Olds on Saturday and host NAIT Tuesday before the Christmas break.

“A lot of games but it’s a matter of being smart, getting your rest, eating right and keeping up at school,” said Graf. “We have to do the little things so we’re good to do.”

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 rdcathletics.ca

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