Just put the puck in the net.
It’s a simple concept, but one the Red Deer College Queens (0-3-0-0) have struggled with so far in this Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference women’s hockey season.
On Thursday at the Red Deer Arena, they outshot the SAIT Trojans 33-16 but still lost 3-1. In three games this season, they’ve managed to turn on the goal light twice.
“It boils down to two things, we broke down at the wrong time, didn’t get the save we needed to … and we didn’t capitalize on our chances,” said Queens head coach Bob Rutz. “If you go back through all of the articles over the last two years, I talk about how much we work on shooting and scoring and to not see the results in a game is a bit mind boggling.”
Jayna Kitchen scored RDC’s lone goal while goalie Moriah Andrews stopped 13 of 15 shots. Tessa Hare and Kali Jamieson responded for SAIT (2-1-0-0) while Hailey Brooks added an empty-netter and Laticia Castillo made 32 saves for the win.
Queens players are just as frustrated as their head coach with the lack of production, especially the last couple of games where they have carried the play but have gone home unrewarded.
“Probably my last two years I’ve played here has been the most we’ve struggled with it,” said captain Rachael Hoppins, who assisted on Kitchen’s goal and was named RDC player of the game. “We have the skill and we can score the goals, it just doesn’t seem to happen for some reason.”
The question becomes, how do they fix it? Rutz is not sure how.
They cannot be faulted for not working on it in practice, it has been a top priority. Still, after every game he is being asked the same questions about the lack of offence.
“The theory I have is, if you practice it all the time, it should translate into the game, you should have confidence because were doing it in practice, but again we’re not seeing it,” said Rutz. “I still think this team has tons of potential, we just have to learn to play for 60 (minutes) … and we have to put the puck in the net.”
Things got off to a good start for Red Deer on Thursday as Kitchen opened the scoring up at 6:45 of the first period, getting to a loose puck during a scramble in front of the SAIT net and swatted the puck in.
But the positive vibes did not last long.
At 12:57, off a neutral zone turn over, Hare came in on Andrews on a 2-on-1 rush, elected to shoot the puck and slipped it five hole, a goal the ’keeper likely wants back.
Mid-way through the second period, the Trojans took the lead off a turnover deep in the RDC end. Fanny Grimstad came out with the puck off the side boards and found Jamieson all alone in the slot and she beat Andrews to the far side as she was sliding back over to get into position. The goalie had little chance on the play.
In the third period the Queens outshot SAIT 13-3 but could not beat Castillo and Brooks iced it with 19:04 to go with Andrews on the bench for the extra attacker.
The two teams play again tonight in Calgary at 7 p.m.
RDC is hoping they will finally be rewarded for their hard work. Beyond gaining good momentum, they cannot afford to let the season slip too far away.
“We don’t want to go 0-4, we’ve got to turn this around right away … we’ve got to start climbing back up that hill instead of going down the slope,” said Hoppins. “I know we will, everyone wants it and we all know what we need to do. Tomorrow is the day to get things turned around.”