Queens 2 Ooks 2
Emily Hnatiuk’s decision to play hockey a little closer to home this season is proving to be a nice addition to the RDC Queens defensive corps.
Hnatiuk spent two seasons with the Grant MacEwan Griffins after graduating from the Red Deer Sutter Fund midget AAA Chiefs and was an Alberta Colleges Women’s Hockey League all-star last season.
“But I decided to change it up and this is closer to home,” said the native of Bentley following the Queens 2-2 tie with the NAIT Ooks at the Arena Thursday.
Hnatiuk could have joined the Queens right out of midget, but was “scouted and heavily recruited” by the Griffins.
“It helped me playing there a couple of years and last year, being an all-star, really helped my confidence,” she said.
But when the opportunity to switch to RDC and get into the nursing program came up she didn’t mind making the switch.
“I knew most of the girls on the team, so that made the move easier,” she said. “It was a little different at first because I’m playing with the girls I was playing against before, but it’s worked out.”
Hnatiuk is fitting in nicely on the RDC defence and is showing the form that made her an all-star.
“Our first two games against MacEwan I was nervous, but I’m starting to feel more comfortable all the time,” she added.
But while Hnatiuk looks at home the Queens didn’t look their best Thursday, especially in the middle period when they were outshot 25-5 and outscored 2-1.
The Queens led 2-0 before the Ooks solid forechecking and physical play changed the momentum of the game in their favour.
“You have to give NAIT credit they picked up their pace and their physical play and we didn’t match it,” said Queens head coach Rob Weddell. “They took the momentum away from us in that second period and while we played better in the third we still need to improve.”
The Queens played one of their better first periods of the season and jumped into a 1-0 lead on a spectacular individual effort by their scoring star Karla Bourke, who took the puck in the centre ice, beat a pair of defenders and roofed a perfect shot over NAIT netminder Meghan Witt.
Chantal Froehler made it 2-0, scoring on a shorthanded breakaway at 7:55 of the second period.
The Ooks got goals from Justine Cantley at 12:06 on a rebound and Gabrielle Pelland on a two-on-one at 16:29 to even the count. The Ooks continued to dominate play but they couldn’t solve Queens netminder Kaitlyn Chapman the rest of the way.
Chapman was the player of the game, finishing with 36 saves while the Queens, who continue to try to make the fancy play rather than shoot the puck, finished with 15 shots on Witt.
“Chappy was phenomenal,” agreed Weddell. “She’s got to be getting frustrated with the way we’re playing in front of her, but at the same time she’s not letting it get her down and she’s playing the best hockey of her college career. She’s really helping us when we’re struggling.”
l The Queens ran their record to 1-2-2-0 and are tied with the Ooks, 1-2-1-1 and with MacEwan, 2-1-0-0 . . . Queens play at NAIT tonight and host SAIT Thursday.