Megan Jones had decided last season it would be her last with the RDC Queens hockey team. That was until she started thinking about it during the summer.
“I had an unfinished feeling after losing to NAIT in the championship final last year,” she said. “Plus we had a lot of veteran players coming back and I decided I wasn’t ready to start my nursing career.”
Jones’ decision to return helped solidify the top defence in the Alberta College Women’s Hockey League.
Her value to the team wasn’t any more evident than during a 2-0 victory over the Grant MacEwan University Griffins at the Arena Thursday. Jones came up with a brilliant defensive player, tying up the stick of a Grant MacEwan forward, who had an open net as the Queens were shorthanded two players. RDC held a 1-0 lead at the time.
“Our penalty kill has been huge for us, that changed the momentum,” said Jones, who was the ACAC defenceman of the year last season.
Queens head coach Kelly Coulter has nothing but positive things to say about the fifth-year native of Conquest, Sask.
“She decided to come back despite having her nursing degree and provides a lot of leadership,” said Coulter. “She is smart with the puck is plays under control.”
In fact the whole team plays that way no matter how tight the game is. Thursday it was a scoreless until Ashley Graf shovelled home a loose puck during a scramble at 7:28 of the third period.
“Not panicking comes from having veteran players,” said Jones. “In this league it’s always tough and if you can stay in it long enough the games will flip … you have to stay calm and relax.”
The Queens, who had last week off, looks a bit rusty for the first 10 minutes of the first period and were being outshot 6-5.
“Alex (goaltender Frisk) kept us in it,” said Coulter. “We were a bit flat, but she wasn’t.”
Frisk finished with 25 saves to record her fourth shutout of the season while her teammates had 44 shots on the Griffins’ Sandy Heim.
“We have a lot of experience on the blueline, but our goaltenders have been outstanding,” said Jones. “Alex has four shutouts and Jen (West) three. That’s huge for us.”
Team scoring leader, Emily Swier gave the Queens some breathing room at 16:40 of the final frame. It was a picture perfect play with defenceman Rikki Leonard finding Graf at the side of the GMU net and her relay pass was on Swier’s stick in the slot.
“That was awesome,”said Jones, who gave the Grant MacEwan netminder credit.
“She was good. We’ve played some tough goalies this year, but we stay with it, but it took us a bit to get our legs and scoring going. I find it even as a veteran the week off hurts. Our practices were not as intense and we’re not as motivated. But Kelly give us a kick and got us going.”
The win gave the first-place Queens a 14-2-1 record and moved them seven points up on the Griffins. The teams meet again Saturday in Edmonton and RDC can clinch top spot with a victory. Only SAIT, who is eight points back with five games remaining, could tie them, but RDC has a 4-0 record against the Trojans, who play the Queens at the Arena next Thursday.
“We don’t worry about where we’re at, we’re having a lot of fun and we take every game goal-by-goal and shift-by-shift and not worry about the end result just the process,” said Jones.
“We don’t worry about where we’re at, just co