One of the biggest concerns surrounding the RDC hockey Queens last season was where they would play the next two seasons before their new facility opens at RDC.
It was officially announced Wednesday that the Queens will play out of the Centrium.
“Where we would play was something that’s been on the backburner all season and in the back of all our minds,” said Queens head coach Kelly Coulter. “It’s nice to finally get a home. It helps in recruiting and made it easier for some of the girls who are returning, especially in nursing.”
One of those veterans is star centre Ashley Graf, who is heading into her fifth year as a player and in her fourth year in nursing.
“Getting a home and a good practice time was really important for me to return, and for the other girls in nursing,” she said. “If we would have had practice in the morning or middle of the afternoon just didn’t work for some of us.”
As it stands the Queens will practice at 6:45 p.m.
“We really appreciate all those who worked to find us a place to play and for the work they did on the practice time. Diane (Athletic director St-Denis) and the Science Department did a great job.”
“It makes a world of difference in knowing we’ll have a home for the two years and a top-notch facility. I know in recruiting the players like to know where their home will be. When they have their own dressing room, stalls and storage facility it makes an impact on a player’s decision to come here.
“If we had a smaller facility and no room where the players had to haul their equipment around it makes a difference.”
“It does make a difference,” said Graf. “Just knowing the Centrium is giving us a room and stalls is exciting for a women’s team. Being treated like that is a real positive.”
It’s a move Westerner Park CEO and GM Ben Antifaiff was glad to make.
“We’re proud to work with Red Deer College to support the Queens Hockey team,” says Antifaiff. “We are committed to serving our community and celebrate the opportunity to have the RDC Queen’s call our facility home for the next two seasons.”
The Centrium is an elite facility, but will seem a bit empty for the RDC games.
“It’s a challenge to play in a facility that large,” said Coulter. “But we play for the crest on front of the sweater and while it will be a slight adjustment it will still be a great place to play.
“All the coaches are certainly happy going into a WHL class facility with a great ice surface. When the coaches and team is happy it’s important for our success. I know we will be well taken care of and it’s top notch all the way.”
It will also be a lot warmer than the Red Deer Arena, which has been the home of the Queens for a number of years.
“That’s been the talk of the team on how much hotter it will be, but we’ll get conditioned to it. I know it’s the same at SAIT and usually we die there. So once we get used to it, it will be to our advantage.”
While Graf is looking forward to moving into the Centrium, she said she’s also a bit sad.
“I know all of us are excited … it’s a big thing for us, but as a player from Red Deer it’s a bit sad to leave the Arena. I grew up playing there. But I’m also a fan of the Rebels and it will be a pleasure to play there.”
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His work can also be seen at www.rdc.ab.ca/athleticsblog.