It’s no secret that a strong defence is the first step to success in the Alberta Colleges Women’s Hockey League.
This year’s edition of the RDC Queens should have a defence second to none.
In fact there’s so much talent that head coach Rob Weddell has moved two rearguards — veteran Becky Bolander and rookie Caitlin Couronne of the Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs — up front while veteran Allison McDonald will start the season as the team’s seventh defenceman
“We have nine defencemen in camp, all of whom can play,” said Weddell.
“The fact we had to make the moves we did shows how strong we hope to be back there.”
Fourth-year all-star Lindsay Hogg will anchor the defence along with transfer Emily Hnatiuk of Bentley, who was a first-team all-star last year with MacEwan.
“They were both all-stars and the other four have the potential to be all-stars,” added Weddell, who also has veterans Kimberlee Day, Mika Strueby and Janel Lirette and rookie Brandi Buss of the Sutter Fund Chiefs on the blueline.
Buss was one of Weddell’s top recruits this season.
“The University of Alberta was after her, but she decided to stay here, which is a boost for our program,” Weddell said.
Buss is one of eight rookies on the roster and two of those — goaltender Tanis Duffy of Camrose and forward Brittany Taylor of Olds — will red shirt.
One of the top recruits is goaltender Kendra Lakeman of Spruce Grove, who’ll team with third-year veteran Kaitlyn Chapman.
“We’re looking for big things from Chapman and I expect Lakeman to push her, which never hurts,” said Weddell.
The rookie crop up front is led by Jessica Abt of Bentley, who played with the midget Chiefs, Montanna Noyes of Onoway, who played midget last year with Spruce Grove after spending a year with the Edmonton Chimos, and Brittany Erlandson of Outlook, Sask., who played midget in Swift Current.
Jessica Abt has teamed with sister Megan and Amber Graham so far this season and the trio have been the team’s top line.
Meanwhile, outstanding second-year winger Karla Bourke is once again with veteran Chantel Froehler.
Other veterans up front are Ashley Blacquiere, Nicky Doiron, Charlee Mappin and Treena Dodd.
But Weddell isn’t sure all of them will start the season on the team’s top three lines.
“Some of the veterans are falling down (on the depth chart) as the younger girls have come into camp in excellent condition and will give us even more speed,” said the veteran coach.
The Queens face SAIT in exhibition play Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Arena and host the University of Alberta Pandas, Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. at the Arena.
“We hope to have our top three lines ID’d by the Pandas game,” added Weddell. “That’s a game we’ll treat like a league game.”
l Aspen Haynes and Curtis Fellings are assistant coaches and Kaitlin Eyestone the goaltender coach . . . It was announced at a the RDC meet-the-coaches press conference Wednesday that long-time RDC coach, instructor and AD — Al Ferchuk — is the new interim executive director of the ACAC . . . Kings volleyball dropped a 32 (25-14, 23-25, 22-25, 25-20, 12-15) decision to SAIT in exhibition play in Airdrie Tuesday.