Photo by JEFF STOKOE/Advocate staff-Queens Hockey --- Red Deer College Queen Nikki Connor breaks away from NAIT Ook Karli Reeve during first period action at the Arena in Red Deer on Thursday.

Queens comeback falls short in home loss to NAIT

The Red Deer College Queens (12-7-4) did not treat their game against the NAIT Ooks (18-3-2) like the meaningless contest it was. Despite falling down by three goals five minutes in the third period, they battled back to close the gap to a 4-3 final. It was a loss but the theme was all about building momentum into the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference women’s hockey playoffs.

Ooks 4 Queens 3

The Red Deer College Queens (12-7-4) did not treat their game against the NAIT Ooks (18-3-2) like the meaningless contest it was.

Despite falling down by three goals five minutes in the third period, they battled back to close the gap to a 4-3 final.

It was a loss but the theme was all about building momentum into the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference women’s hockey playoffs.

“I think NAIT’s a great team, but I think we’re pretty great as well. It’s important for us to learn how to bounce back because games are going to be way more important next week than they are now,” said Queens head coach Bob Rutz.

Breanna Frasca scored twice for NAIT while Sherri Bowles and Lindsey Brouwer also tallied and goalie Tehnille Gard made 29 saves,

Nikki Connor, Suze Vanderlinde and Ashley Graf replied for RDC while Moriah Andrews allowed four goals on 19 shots.

This game will be marked by missed opportunities in the second period and five minutes of soft play to open the third frame.

The Ooks held a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes, and the Queens took over in the second stanza, dominating play and holding a 13-2 advantage on the shot clock. But they could not beat Gard. Connor even had a glorious opportunity on a breakaway midway through the period, but Gard got her blocker on the shot.

But RDC came out in the third period flat and the Ooks took full advantage.

First Livia Lucova carried the puck in on a 2-on-1 break at 1:52, her initial shot was gloved by Andrews, but mishandled as she dropped the puck over her shoulder and on the stick of Bowles who had a wide open net to put the puck in.

Then, at the 5:00 mark, Brouwer ripped a wrist shot past Andrews after being left alone in the slot.

Rutz called his time out to settle his troops down and it appeared to work.

At 10:39 Vanderlinde cut the lead to 4-2 on a breakaway, sniping her shot five-hole on Gard as she was being hauled down.

Less than a minute later Graf cut the lead to one goal as she fired a rebound past Gard from her knees, but it’s as close as the Queens got.

“I thought they got a couple of lucky goals and the other two goals they got were a direct result of us being soft in our own zone,” said Rutz. “I’m glad all of this is happening to us right now against a good team so we can at least learn from it.”

It was a rough night for Andrews who has not yet nailed down the starter’s job for the post season, despite being in her second season with the club and RDC’s other option Summer Roberts in her first year.

There are two goals she should have had, the Ooks’ third goal and their second. The second goal came off a face off to her left at 15:11 of the first period and gave NAIT a 2-0 lead. RDC actually won the draw, but her winger reached back for the puck and deflected it between Andrews’ legs.

“I’m sure Moriah would like those two back, but sometimes a team gets lucky,” said Rutz. “Summer is going to play tomorrow then we’re going to have to make a decision … if we have to keep rotating then we’ll keep rotating because that’s how much confidence we have in both of them.”

NAIT has already earned a bye into the ACAC championship game by clinching first in the regular season while the second place Queens are preparing for the best-of-three semifinal next week against the third place SAIT Trojans. But first they will wrap up their regular season tonight in Edmonton against the Ooks at 7 p.m.

“I believe in momentum, but not over a period of a week,” said Rutz. “We’re not going to focus on sending them a message, we’re going to focus on fine tuning our game and making sure we’re doing the little things in all three zones.

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