EDMONTON — The Red Deer College Queens had to fight through some injuries to some of their top players and as a result weren’t able to grab the advantage in the first game of the ACAC women’s hockey championship Thursday.
Already missing Ashley Graf, the Queens also lost Emily Lougheed to a cut on her knee — resulting from a crash into the boards — and Jade Petrie during the first game of the best-of-five series at NAIT. This resulted in a lack of scoring punch that the team couldn’t recover from in a 3-0 loss.
“Those are our most offensive players so it was hard to gain any momentum that way,” said Queens head coach Trevor Keeper. “We did dominate the third period but they got a power-play goal on us and a breakaway goal so that was just how it was going for us tonight.”
The Queens were outshot 22-16 in the game but Keeper felt that his team played better than what was translated on the scoreboard.
“We definitely started slow but we were able to put forth a good effort,” said Keeper who knows there is still a lot of hockey left to be played.
“We will be having a short hard practice then we’ll get ready for them on Saturday. We will hopefully get our injured players back and make it tough on them on. That’s what I told the girls after the game, that there is still a lot of hockey left in the series and we have to start by tying the series. We know it is going to be a tough series that could go right down to the wire.”
Keeper said he did get solid performances from forward Jessica Anderson and defenceman Natasha Steblin.
The second game is set for Saturday 5:15 p.m. at the Arena.
l In only his second year in the league, Keeper was named the ACAC coach of the year earlier in the day.
“It is a great honour and I am proud of our coaching staff,” said Keeper. “This is a result of huge group effort. It is great to be recognized but this is a staff award and I have a group of great people to work with.”
Keeper took over a young RDC team last season and after a slow 1-11 start, the Queens won seven of 12 games in the second half to make the playoffs. They eventually lost to league champion Mount Royal.
The Queens finished second in the regular season this year with a 13-4-1 record.
‘It just shows we have the right group of people here,” said Keeper.
“Last year we an inexperienced and young group of hockey players but the girls have grown and done a good job of improving. We have some great character in our dressing room and the team has really pulled together this season.”
Meanwhile, two members of the Queens — netminder Camille Trautman and Steblin — were named to the first all-star team with defenceman Nikki Connor and forward Gillian Altheim on the second team.
The rest of the first team included defenceman Nicole Gregoire of NAIT and forwards Sherri Bowles and Danielle Brown of NAIT and Red Deer native Becca Glackin of SAIT.
The second team also had goaltender Jill Diachuk of NAIT, rearguard Jenaya Townsend of Grant MacEwan and forwards Ashley Holt of MacEwan and Michelle Pochapsky of NAIT. Holt is from Bashaw and Pochapsky from Olds.