Kitchen’s first of season leads Queens past Broncos

Jayna Kitchen knows a thing or two about scoring Over her first four years in the Alberta College Women’s Hockey League the RDC Queens veteran had 28 goals in 83 games. This year she’s been snake-bitten and it wasn’t until 20 seconds into the second period of the Queens 16th game of the season that she finally got the monkey off her back.

Jayna Kitchen knows a thing or two about scoring

Over her first four years in the Alberta College Women’s Hockey League the RDC Queens veteran had 28 goals in 83 games. This year she’s been snake-bitten and it wasn’t until 20 seconds into the second period of the Queens 16th game of the season that she finally got the monkey off her back.

Kitchen’s first of the season not only allowed her to relax but seemed to pump up the Queens, who score on their first three shots of the second period on their way to a 7-1 victory over the Olds Broncos at the Arena Saturday.

“It was a good feeling,” said Kitchen.

“It’s taken a while. Everyone was excited as they knew I was getting frustrated and down on myself. You could see the bench was excited and it gave us a lift.”

While Kitchen may have been getting frustrated head coach Kelly Coulter was anything but disappointed in her play.

“Jayna has done all the thing we asked of her,” he said. “Tonight it was a nice goal and got us going, but she always does the little things and it’s those things that makes us successful. Not just the goals.”

The Queens trailed 1-0 after 20 minutes on a goal by Chelsea Broadhead, one second after their power play ended.

“It wasn’t the start we wanted,” said Kitchen. “I’m not sure if we were tired or took Olds for granted after beating them 4-0 on Thursday. We were flat, but once we exploded early in the second period we rolled from there.”

Coulter gave Queens netminder Jen West credit for keeping the game close in the first period.

“She was solid and kept us in the game,” said Coulter.

Kitchen scored off a faceoff win by Suze Vanderlinde just seconds after a quick whistle cost RDC a goal. Kaely McMurtry, who has been hot of late, notched her fourth of the season on the power play at 3:52 and Ashley Graf redirected in a perfect pass from Emily Swier at 5:08. It was the second assist of the period for Swier, who flipped the puck over a stick and had it land perfectly on Graf’s stick.

Graf added her sixth goal of the season on the power play at 8:18 of the third period with Swier scoring her seventh at 9:57. Vanderlinde, who is one of the top checking centres in the league, scored her first of the year while shorthanded at 15:12 and rearguard Rikki Leonard got her fourth at 19:06.

“We have a lot of offence and it’s spread out,” said Kitchen. “Our top line of Graf, (Jade) Petrie and Swier carries us, but we also get a lot of secondary scoring.”

“It’s nice to see the scoring and we’re happy to see the power play working,” added Coulter.

The Queens ran their record to 13-2-1 and sit seven points up on the second-place Grant MacEwan Griffins with eight games remaining.

“We set out win the league this year and we’re in a good spot, but being here for five years I also know the second half of the season is a real grind,” said Kitchen. “We have a target on our backs and everyone will come at us hard.”

Coulter agrees.

“Like the old cliché we can’t get ahead of ourselves,” he said. “It’s a real tight league and we can lose any game. We have to make sure we’re prepared and show up every night. We have to realize the toughest part of being in first is that everyone is gunning for us. If we’re not prepared shame on us. And we have to be prepared to play 60 minutes.”

West finished with 25 saves while her teammates had 37 shots on Nicole Grandinetti, including 18 in the third period.

The Queens, who took three of nine minor penalties, are off until they host Grant MacEwan Jan. 28.

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