The RDC Queens are behind the eight-ball, but head coach Trevor Keeper isn’t about to hand the Alberta Colleges Women’s Hockey League title to the NAIT Ooks.
Keeper believes if they come out stronger and play their game they can get back in the series, despite falling behind 2-0 in the best-of-five final following a 2-1 loss to the Ooks at the Arena Saturday.
“The last two games we started slow and let them score the first goal, then we had to play catch up,” he said. “That’s hard to do as you use a lot of gas playing from behind. We have to make sure when we go back there for Game 3 we get off to a good start and get the lead and make them try to come back on us.”
The third game is set for Friday at NAIT with the fourth game, if necessary, Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at the Arena. If a fifth game is needed it’s Sunday at NAIT.
The Queens were more than slow out of the gate Saturday as they were outshot 16-2 in the first period. Fortunately goaltender Camille Trautman was ready to play as she all but stood on her head, keeping the game scoreless after 20 minutes.
The Queens were much better in the middle period, but a giveaway at the NAIT blueline gave league scoring champion Sherri Bowles a breakaway, which she converted for a 1-0 lead at 13:58.
Fourth-year defenceman Nicole Gregoire made it 2-0 at 17:22 when her shot deflected off a RDC stick up and over Trautman.
“They’re an opportunistic team and if you make a mistake they have some excellent goal scorers, who will put it in the net,” said Keeper. “We have to keep their shots down, but we also have to find a way to put pucks in the net as well and win 3-2 rather than losing 2-1.”
The Queens Gillian Altheim finally beat Ooks netminder Jill Diachuk at 10:37 of the third period. It was the first goal of the series against the third-year netminder, who recorded a 3-0 shutout in the first game at home.
“I think we made her look good,” said Keeper. “She stops a lot of shots, but she’s definitely beatable if you move the puck east and west on her.”
The Queens controlled play most of the second and third periods.
“The second and definitely the third we out played them, but coming from behind doesn’t work,” added Keeper. “I still believe we’re two evenly matched teams. We’re a bit more defensive and they have a bit more offensive. We just have to find ways to win whether it’s on defence or scoring a couple more goals than they do.”
Keeper feels he has a team that won’t just hand the series to the Edmonton squad.
“We have a group of girls who have been good all year in fighting back and not quitting,” he said. “They did that tonight and will continue to do it. We do need to start quicker so the ice is tilted downhill.”
Trautman finished with 23 saves while Diachiuk made 16. RDC took four of six minor penalties.