There are times when you simply take the victory and slink away.
The Queens did just that as they were far from their best, but came away with a 4-3 shootout victory over the SAIT Trojans in Alberta Colleges Women’s Hockey League play at the Arena Thursday.
“I don’t think we were mentally prepared like we need to be,” said Queens veteran defenceman Rikki Leonard, who scored the winning goal in the shootout. “We weren’t communicating and passing like we need to do.
“They worked hard, but we weren’t ready to compete. I think we let them look at good.
“But we battled through it and won … That’s great but we have a lot of work to do.
Queens head coach Kelly Coulter indicated he came into the game a bit worried.
“We were lackadaisical and it started in practice,” he said. “We weren’t prepared to compete … we weren’t sharp from the net on out.
“We need to be more focused to start the game and execute the game plan. That’s something the girls can control and hopefully they come out better Saturday.”
The Queens complete the 2015 portion of their schedule Saturday at SAIT.
Three times the Queens took the lead only to see the Trojans battle back. The Trojans, who trailed 3-2 after 40 minutes tied the game with their second power play goal of the game at 4:04 of the third period when Tessa Hare was left alone at the side of RDC netminder Alex Frisk.
The five minutes four-on-four overtime was scoreless despite the fact the Queens had a two-minute power play.
The shootout saw the Trojans take a 1-0 lead as Madison Fjellstrom picked the top corner on Frisk and Jade Petrie was stopped by SAIT netminder Latica Castillo.
However, Frisk got her shoulder on a high shot by Erin McLean that deflected off the crossbar and Morgan Fraser tied it with a nice backhand-to-forehand move. Frisk then stopped Sarah Botter and Leonard pulled the puck to her backhand and lifted it high into the net for the winner.
“I shot the first time we had a shootout and did the same move but shot it over the net,” she explained. “This time I learned my lesson.”
She knew she had to go high on Castillo.
“She’s very good down low, so you have to get it up,” she said.
“It’s nice to win a shootout,” said Coulter. “We got a couple of big saves from Alex and while it’s exciting I would rather see the NHL format. Three-on-three looks exciting to me.”
Leonard opened the scoring for the Queens with a partially screened blast from the point at 3:55 of the first period. Karmen Mooeny tied it for the Trojans at 10:58 on a sharp-angled shot Frisk would like to have back.
Jena Holden made it 2-1 for RDC at 1:50 of the second period when she was left alone and whipped home a Jayna Kitchen pass. McLean tied it on a deflection at 10:35 and Petrie put the Queens ahead at 17:35 when she grabbed a loose puck and fired a backhand past Castillo.
The win gave the first-place Queens a 9-1-1 record while SAIT is third at 6-6-1. RDC has wrapped up first place at Christmas, but that’s not what matters says Coulter.
“It’s where we finish at the end that matters the most,” he said.
“The girls have played well for most of the first half, but it’s important for us to continue to train like we are the underdogs and play with humility and train hard. It’s their hard work that has them on top, not lucky bounces. You get those bounces when you work hard.”
Leonard, a fourth-year nursing student, likes the fact the team will be in first at Christmas, but realizes it’s only the midpoint of the season.
“Still it feels great,” she said.
Frisk finished with 15 saves while Castillo had 25. SAIT took four of seven minor penalties in the physical contest.
The Queens were playing without fourth-year centre Ashley Graf, who suffered a concussion in a 3-0 win at Grant MacEwan last weekend.