The Red Deer College Queens have found a new way to lose.
The Queens (1-3-0-1) outplayed the MacEwan University Griffins (3-2-0-0) through three periods, scored late to tie and then dominated the extra frame thinking they were heading home with a tie. Unbeknownst to them, however, the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference adopted the shootout for women’s hockey just before the season.
Completely unprepared for the skills competition, they hung in for six rounds before the 12th shooter, MacEwan’s Anna Hackman, beat Queens goalie Moriah Andrews with a deke for the 3-2 win.
“It’s unfortunate we even got to that point,” said Queens head coach Bob Rutz. “(The girls) did a great job coming back and scoring the tying goal … but we’ve got to stop finding ways to lose hockey games.”
Raven Beazer and Samantha Schulz also scored for the Griffins while Brenna McNulty made 29 saves through overtime and stopped all six shots in the shootout for the win.
Ashley Graf and Jayna Kitchen scored for Red Deer while Andrews stopped 19 shots through overtime and the first five shooters of the shootout.
When the rule change occurred is a little foggy, the August version of the rule book still has the game ending after five minutes of four-on-four overtime. The change does appear in the September version, but neither the refs, the RDC coaches or off-ice game officials were aware the change had been made. Even the league standings do not have a shootout column, as other leagues like the NHL have, but there is one for ties. To top it off, ACAC men’s hockey does not include the shootout.
It took Griffins coach Lindsay McAlpine pointing it out after the game had been announced as a 2-2 final for it to take place.
“It certainly surprised me, I had no idea,” said Rutz. “I knew they were talking about it at the last hockey (league) meetings, but I was totally unprepared and had I known it was passed we’d be working on shootouts a lot more in practice then we had been.”
The players, at least, seemed to enjoy the new wrinkle to the game.
“It’s a lot of fun once you get the first shot out of the way. That first time standing out on the blue line I was pretty nervous, but once it was out of the way I wanted to go again,” said Kitchen. “It’s great for the league, we won’t have so many ties so we won’t be as close at the end.”
In 2013-14 four points separated first through third place while four games ended tied.
There is still much for the Queens to build off of in this loss as they outplayed the Griffins for 45 minutes.
The two goals against came during two lapses of concentration.
RDC opened the scoring on Graf’s goal-mouth scramble at 4:06 of the second period, but let up on the next two shifts and MacEwan evened it at 5:33.
Then, after the Queens dominated play for the first half of the third frame, a turnover at their own blue line sent MacEwan in on an odd-man rush. Andrews made a terrific kick save on the first shot, but had no chance on the rebound as Schulz roofed it.
RDC did not slink away and took control again, finally getting the equalizer at 18:41 as Kitchen beat McNulty on a rebound.
“Bob can only pick five, sometimes six players to get out on the ice in those minutes, that’s why we go to the gym five days a week and practise five days a week, those are the moments you live for,” said Kitchen. “To get to be out there, you want to do it for your team because you know they want to be out there as much as you do.”
Rutz was impressed with what he saw from his team and senses the tide finally shifting in their favour, if they can only get a break somewhere along the line.
In five games this season they have outshot their competition four times, it’s just a matter of capitalizing on their chances.
“I honestly, truly believe that our best hockey is ahead of us,” he said.
“It’s a tough time right now because we are outshooting teams, we are out working teams, we are out chancing teams, we just aren’t getting the results. So I’m hoping this entire process of whatever you want to call it — bad luck, adversity — I’m hoping one day it’s just going to turn around for us.”
The two teams play again on Saturday in Edmonton at 8:15 p.m.