There hasn’t been a time this season when RDC Queens head coach Bob Rutz doubted his team’s ability to win in the Alberta Colleges Women’s Hockey League.
“I’ve said since Day 1 we have the team to win it all,” he said.
If their play Thursday is any indication Rutz is exactly right as the Queens showed how much talent they do possess in a 6-0 victory over the first-place Grant MacEwan University Griffins at the Arena.
“That didn’t surprise me,” added Rutz. “We’ve shown some of that many times this season. It’s a matter of how hard we want to work and how hard we battle. It’s always a choice and tonight we decided to do it for 60 minutes. This was as close to a 60 minute effort as I’ve seen all season and that’s a first-place team we beat out there tonight.
“This wasn’t a fluke . . . that’s the way we can play every game if we want to.”
Despite holding a definite edge in play in the first period, it wasn’t until 19:15 that Jayna Kitchen shovelled in a loose puck during a scramble against Griffins netminder Morgan Glover.
“We were waiting for that first one,” said Rutz. “But we were playing well and the big difference from other games was we were playing with passion.”
Queens veteran winger, Jade Petrie agreed.
“Everyone decided tonight to give it 100 per cent and play with passion, which really helped us out,” she said.
“Our defence really killed it tonight as well. They played well in our zone and were getting their shots through on goal. Plus that first goal was nice.”
Petrie and her linemates of Ashley Graf and Emily Lougheed dominated the game.
The trio played together as a line with the Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs major midget team, and the chemistry was evident.
“We can read each other, which makes it easy,” said Petrie, who finished with a goal and three assists. Lougheed scored once and added two assists and Graf had one helper.
Third-year defenceman Casey Nicholson scored twice, giving her six on the season, with Rachael Hoppins completing the scoring. Nicholson and both have 11 points and are tied for second in league scoring.
The Queens biggest problem all season was their inability to score consistently.
“We usually have so many chances, but finally we started going top shelf and they were going in,” said Petrie, who had one of the best assists on the evening when she battled for the puck behind the GMU net and slipped it into the slot to Lougheed who beat Glover high to her glove side.
“I love setting up my teammates, it’s as good as scoring a goal,” said Petrie.
The only slight setback for the Queens came in the third period when Rutz called a time out to settle everyone down.
“I know it was 5-0 at the time, but we startled panicking with the puck a bit and I didn’t want us to get into any bad habits. We called time out and calmed everyone down and they went back to work.”
Rutz also cut his lines down, going mainly with three lines.
“We just wanted to get everyone involved more frequently,” he said.
Camille Trautman finished with 13 saves for her third shutout of the season. She lowered her goals-against-average to 1.23 with her save percentage at .949, both best in the league.
The Queens upped their record to 6-7-0-0 with GMU at 8-4-0-1. The two meet again Saturday in Edmonton.
“This was an outstanding effort, now it’s a matter of making sure everybody keeps going,” stressed Rutz.
The Queens have only two more home games remaining on their regular schedule — Jan. 30 against NAIT and Feb. 6 against SAIT.