Over the last three years the NAIT Ooks have been the RDC Queens nemesis.
The Queens lost to the Ooks in the Alberta Colleges Women’s Hockey League playoffs the past three seasons and if things continue as they are they could meet in the first round of this year’s playoffs.
So the Queens were looking to use this weekend’s home-and-home series with the Ooks as a stepping stone towards the playoffs. However the first step didn’t turn out as they hoped as they dropped a 5-4 decision to the Ooks in a shootout at the Arena Thursday.
The teams meet again tonight at NAIT.
“They could well be the team we face in the first round so these games could set the tone,” said Queens star winger Emily Swier, who did everything in her power to win the game, scoring three times and setting up Ashley Graf for a fourth goal.
“Unfortunately we didn’t pull it out tonight, but tomorrow we’ll come out stronger,” she said.
“We made some mistakes and they capitalized,” said Queens head coach Kelly Coulter. “We need to be executing at a better rate than we were tonight.”
Swier was head and shoulders the RDC player of the game as she notched her hat trick with 24.7 seconds remaining in the third period while the Queens were shorthanded and with their goalie out.
The third-year winger has a league leading 11 goals and 10 assists in 19 league games, which is tied for second in league scoring, one point out of first.
“I’m glad I came back this year, it’s been good, too bad I couldn’t have done a bit more tonight.”
She also scored a nifty backhand goal in the shootout against NAIT netminder Tehnille Gard. Morgan Fraser also scored in the shootout, but Erika Igkesias and Breanna Frasca connected against RDC’s Alex Frisk. Frasca got an opportunity to shoot again as the fourth shooter and scored the winner.
“It was good to get the one point, but we wanted both,” said Swier.
The Queens were without high-scoring winger Jade Petrie (flu) and then lost Graf in the overtime when it appeared as if she was two-handed across the head in front of the NAIT goal. There was mysteriously no call on the play and she had to be helped from the ice.
“Ashley is with the trainer, so I can’t say right now how she is,” said Coulter.
Graf had a concussion earlier in the season and could be lost for the rest of the season if she suffered a second one.
“Jade was ill so we’re hoping she’s back tomorrow and we just have to play it by ear in Ashley’s case,” said Swier. “Our goal is to be healthy for the playoffs, so that’s all we can hope.”
The Queens, and Frisk, really weren’t as sharp as they have been. Lindsey Roth beat Frisk to open the scoring on a wrap around at 2:57 of the first period. Swier and Graf scored in the first period and Swier made it 3-1 at 2:22 of the second period. However, Kendra Hanson narrowed the gap to 3-2 on a goal between the pads at 11:39 and then Jordyn Tibbatts tied the game on a breakaway at 12:38 on a poor line change.
Still the Queens controlled play in the second period, outshooting the Ooks 10-5.
“I thought we were better in the second period, but we seemed to back off in the third,” said Coulter. “Our forecheck is our bread and butter and we have to execute our game play. Our No. 1 strength is our skating and when we’re not skating we’re not effective.”
Tibbatts scored to make it 4-3 for NAIT just 59 seconds into the third period on a goal that hit a couple bodies in front and trickled over the line. That set the stage for Swier’s late heroics.
“We pride ourselves of working hard right to the end and that was a good example tonight,” said Swier.
The Queens sit first in the league with a 16-2-3 record while Grant MacEwan (12-8-0) and SAIT (10-8-4) are tied for second with 24 points, one up on NAIT (10-8-3). While the Queens have first place wrapped up the standings below them could change drastically. SAIT meets GMU twice this weekend and NAIT clashes with MacEwan twice on the final weekend of the season.
The Queens finished with 33 shots on Gard and Shelby Audet, who came in following the Queens third goal and played 6:57 and faced one shot, before Gard came back. Frisk faced 26 shots.
The Queens were assessed six of 10 minor penalties.