Ten seconds into the RDC Queens meeting with the SAIT Trojans at the Arena Thursday it appeared as if the home team could be in for a long night.
SAIT defenceman Tashel Scantlebury scored from centre ice when her shot hit RDC netminder Jen West’s blocker and deflected back into the net.
But instead of letting it bother them the Queens showed their maturity as they shook it off and pulled out a 2-1 overtime victory.
“One of the best things about our team is the perseverance and ability to dig deep,” said Queens forward Julia Murrell, who’s power play goal at 2:32 of the third period tied the game. “Every team overcomes some adversity and that’s one thing we really do well as a team. We battle through it.”
Queens head coach Kelly Coulter stayed with West for the first two periods then switched to Alex Frisk in the third.
“Our goalies have been there all season for us and it’s our job to pick them up when a goal goes in that maybe shouldn’t,” he said. “They’ve bailed us out many times. It takes a team to win and a team to lose. The girls did a good job of not getting worked up about it and battling back.”
West also didn’t let the unfortunate goal affect her as she kept the game within striking distance over the first 40 minutes, finishing with 10 saves. Frisk wasn’t tested that much, facing three shots in the third and none in the overtime.
Jade Petrie notched her fifth goal of the season at 3:22 of the five-minute four-on-four overtime period on a great individual effort. She took a pass from Ashley Graf, went around a defenceman on an excellent cross-over move and beat SAIT netminder Laticia Castillo with a quick low shot.
“She did a great job,” said Coulter. “Peti is a goal scorer and did what she does. She was the right person out there at the right time.”
Murrell was also the right person as she got the Queens rolling with her fourth marker of the season.
“The coaches have been telling me to shoot more and I took their advise and it worked,” said Murrell, who has scored in each of the last two games. “It’s picking up and I have to credit my linemates. We talked on the shift before about creating momentum, about having a good shift and working together.”
Coulter made several changes to his lines throughout the evening in an effort to find some offence, but kept Murrell’s line intact.
“He was trying to find who was working well together, find some chemistry,” said Murrell, who played two seasons with Grant MacEwan prior to joining the Queens. “Our line has played well together, We’re connecting … talking on the bench. Communication is a big thing.”
Coulter likes the way Murrell is performing.
“Megan (assistant coach Abt) has been talking with Julia about shooting more as she has a great shot and vision around the net. It’s nice to see her rewarded, but even in tryouts you could see how well she manages the puck and does the little things. She makes us successful as a team and when she chips in offensively that’s even more of a bonus.”
The win gave the Queens a 15-2-2 record and wrapped up first place, which is secondary to the team’s ultimate goal.
“First place means nothing, the playoffs are a different story,” said Murrell. “We’re just trying to keep up the pace the whole season and not let the other teams have an edge.”
“(First place) is a milestone, but not our ultimate goal,” he said. “We worked hard for home ice advantage in the playoffs, which is important, but we have to continue working hard.”
The Queens finished with 39 shots on Castillo. The teams meet again at SAIT on Saturday. The Queens face NAIT and Olds in home-and-home series to finish their regular season. Olds lost 3-1 to NAIT Thursday to be eliminated from the playoffs. The Queens face NAIT Thursday at the Arena. As of now the two would meet in the first round of the playoffs.