There are times when you simply have to shake your head and wonder why the hockey gods weren’t on your side.
That was exactly how the RDC Queens felt following a 3-2 overtime loss to the NAIT Ooks in Alberta Colleges Women’s Hockey League play at the Arena Thursday.
The Queens were simply the better team for most of the 61 minutes and one second of play, but in the end league scoring leader Sherri Bowles put an end to proceedings, snapping a shot past RDC’s Camille Trautman from the slot at 1:01 of overtime.
“That’s tough when you control most of the play in all areas for most of the game,” said Queens head coach Trevor Keeper. “We outshot them (26-16) and probably deserved to win. We had opportunities in regulation to make it 3-1, especially in the third period, but didn’t convert. This was also our first overtime game of the season and we tell the girls to put the gas pedal down and try to put it away early and we had some opportunities, but it didn’t happen.
“They happen to get the puck into the slot and league’s leading goal scorer has a chance and buries one.
“Four-on-four is different, although you still should be protecting the middle of the ice, you gamble a bit offensively and we did, leaving the slot open.”
The Queens led 2-1 after two periods, and had chances to make it 3-1, but couldn’t solve Ooks netminder Jill Diachuk, who stopped both Jena Holden and Laura Salmons on breakaways.
“She’s hard to score on the first shot,” said Keeper. “She takes up a lot of space especially down low. We have to shoot more and get more rebounds.”
The Ooks tied the game at 10:56 of the period when Trautman came out of her net to clear the puck and didn’t get it over the blueline. Jillian Mathieson took advantage and scored into the empty net.
“Overall we played well, but sometimes it just doesn’t go the way you want,” said Salomons, who scored the Queens second goal on a two-on-one at 19:06 of the second period. “The thing is if we learn from the loss, it’s not a bad thing. We haven’t been in OT before and I thought we were nervous and shouldn’t have opened up the slot for that player.
“So if we learn I’m not worried about it,” added Solomons.
The Queens held a 9-4 edge in shots in the first period, but came out tied 1-1. Rachael Hoppins scored at 6:36, converting a rebound on the power play, with Renata Mastna evening the count at 16:52 on a scramble.
The win gave the Ooks a one-point margin on the Queens in the battle for first place. Both teams have three games remaining, including a meeting between the two Saturday at NAIT.
“That’s important as we want to finish first,” said Salomons. “We have a practice (today) and we’ll work on some little mistakes we made and come back Saturday and have a great game.”
Keeper knows the Queens will have to be on top of their game to win at NAIT.
“They find ways to get the job done, but if we compete and finish our chances, we may not blow them out, but we’ll win,” he said.
One way the Queens can get an advantage is by using their overall edge in team speed.
“We have lots of speed and the line of (Jessica) Anderson, (Rikki) Leonard and (Angie) Hodgson were awesome and if we all take their lead we’ll have four lines going,” concluded Salomons.
l Bowles 13th goal of the season gave her 22 points, and a one point lead on RDC’s Gillian Altheim in the scoring race . . . NAIT took six of 10 minor penalties . . . Queens return home Thursday when they host SAIT.