The RDC Queens did everything needed to pull out a victory over the NAIT Ooks, except one — score.
The Queens couldn’t solve Ooks fourth-year netminder Jill Diachuk in dropping a 1-0 decision to the defending Alberta Colleges Women’s Hockey League champions at the Arena Thursday.
“I don’t know what to say to be honest with you until I watch the video tomorrow,” said Queens head coach Bob Rutz. “We did a lot of good things and weren’t rewarded. They are a good team I’ll give them that, but it was a weird game to analyze. The effort was there and we had more people battling than we did at Grant MacEwan last Saturday (a 3-1 loss), but we have to learn to finish around the net. Once we start putting some goals on the board we’ll be fine.”
The Queens were outshot 28-19, but may well have had the better chances, especially in the third period. Diachuk made a great glove save off Jade Petrie, who cut between the defence, then stopped a pair of RDC players while sprawling on the ice in the final minute.
Jena Holden also had a breakaway in the first period and Emily Lougheed had a glorious opportunity in the final minute of the second frame, when she out fought a defender from the blueline on in and looked to have Diachuk beat, but was hauled down by the NAIT netminder as she cut across the crease.
“If Emily scores there it changes the third period,” said veteran Laura Salomons.
“I thought we had more solid chances than they did,” added Rutz.
“Emily and Jade had a lot of chances, but overall we didn’t finish like I know we will. Those two competed, in fact a lot of others competed, we just have to start burying our chances.”
“We had a lot of good opportunities, but we’re still trying to find the back of the net with consistency. It will take time, but we have the veteran players, like myself and Rachael (Hoppins), who have to generate some offence. In fact we’re not a rookie team any more.”
The Ooks ran their record to 3-0 while the Queens slipped to 1-2.
“Just because we lost back-to-back games we’re not about to start panicking, it’s early in the season and we’ll be back tomorrow, have a good practice and be ready for Saturday. This isn’t where we’ll be come February.”
One thing for certain is that the Queens defence will continue to improve as the younger players gain experience.
“We have a good group of defencemen and they’re improving all the time,” said Salomons. “I trust them. They’re learning all the time and they’ll continue to gain experience with the more games they play. This is just the start of the season.”
The teams battled through two scoreless periods as Diachuk and RDC’s goaltender Camille Trautman were at the top of their game.
It wasn’t until a miscue in the defensive zone that the Ooks finally broke through. The Queens missed a chance to clear the puck, which eventually went back to Carlin Boey at the point. Her shot rebounded directly to Czech Republic native Renata Mastna, who beat Trautman at 7:16 of the period.
“I take responsibility for that goal,” said Rutz. “I didn’t have the right people on the ice. I was matching lines and we got caught with some inexperience out there. That won’t happen on Saturday (at NAIT).”
l The Ooks took five of seven minor penalties . . . NAIT has six players in their fourth and fifth years while RDC has two . . . The Queens host SAIT next Thursday.