The RDC Queens weren’t about to bow out of the Alberta Colleges Women’s Hockey League playoffs without a fight.
And while they may have deserved to extend the best-of-three semifinal to another game, it wasn’t to be as they dropped a 3-2 overtime decision to the NAIT Ooks at the Arena Saturday to lose the series 2-0.
Haley Vandepoele notched the winner at 9:49 of the 10-minute first overtime session when she grabbed the puck at the RDC blueline, deeked a defender and picked the corner on Queens netminder Camille Trautman.
“I think they stole one today,” said Queens head coach Bob Rutz. “But then they worked hard to grab that 2-0 lead. However, after Taylor (Hall) scored they didn’t touch us. We hemmed them in with our forecheck and had a tonne of chances.”
The Ooks, who won 1-0 on Friday in Edmonton, held a 14-7 edge in shots in the first period, but it wasn’t until 19:21 that Samantha Dyck managed to beat Trautman.
Jody Rammel made it 2-0 at 7:44 of the second period with Hall narrowing the gap on an outstanding individual effort at 9:14.
The first-year defenceman out of the Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs major midget program, brought the puck down the left side, cut past a defender and picked the top corner on the short side on NAIT’s Jill Diachuk.
Queens held a 14-8 edge in shots in the second period and 18-7 in the third. Captain Rachael Hoppins tied the game at 3:44 of the third period on the power play when she grabbed a lose puck in the slot.
“Overall we played at a level today we needed to play at all season,” said Rutz. “But we still spotted them a 2-0 lead, which is also something that hurt us all season.”
While the Queens didn’t go out without a fight, it was still disappointing and brought a few tears.
“It’s never great when you lose that last game,” said Rutz.
“We didn’t reach the gaol we set out at the beginning of the season. I really believe we had the team to win this, but needed that consistency. Even if we had it yesterday this would have been a different series.”
For Queens fifth-year forward Laura Salomons it was her final game of an outstanding career with the Queens. She played two years with the team, spent a year with the University of Alberta Pandas, then returned to Red Deer. She coached with the Queens for two years before getting into nursing and playing her final two seasons.
“When I first started with the team I was in science and thought I’d play two years and that would be that,” she said. “But as it turned out this is my second home. RDC has been great to me and I’ll continue to follow the team, even if I’m not coaching.”
Rutz has invited Salomons back as a coach next season and it seems she’s leaning that way.
“I’ll be in nursing for at least two more years and (returning) is definitely on my mind. I know part of me wants to stick around.”
Salomons would have liked her career extended for a few more games, but was pleased with the way the team went out.
“The outcome wasn’t how I would have liked, but we could have come in down (after Friday’s loss) and shut it down, especially after getting down 2-0. But we fought thought it and it could have went either way. It would have been nice to win, but it was OK the way we played.”
Rutz is certainly sorry to see Salomons’ career come to an end.
“You talk about consistency, Laura was a model of consistency, She never took a game off, never took a shift off. She was a great leader and I have a lot of respect for her. Whatever she does in life she will be good at it because she gets it.
“I leaned a lot on her this year as this was my first year coaching female hockey and I would love to have her return as a coach. I know one thing if all 20 players played like her we wouldn’t be having this conversation now.”
Salomons isn’t the only player to go next season as it’s expected Trautman and forward Jade Petrie may be leaving, possibly both to university.
“We will have a good core back and I’m exited about next year. We’re just confirming some of the commitments. The girls we’re talking to have speed and have a go-hard style which is what we want to play.”
l Diachuk finished with 41 saves while Trautman made 29.