RDC Queens head coach Rob Weddell seemed very relaxed as he sat in the stands watching the team’s ID camp at the Arena Saturday afternoon.
But then he should be.
Weddell lost only four players off last year’s squad and the majority of those played on the fourth line.
The biggest loss is goaltender Grace Gaska, but Kaitlyn Chapman is returning for her third season and a pair of newcomers — Kendra Lakeman of Spruce Grove and Mackenzie Marlow of Prince Albert — have caught Weddell’s eye. As well Kelly Giacobbo, who was the third netminder in camp last season, is also vying for a spot.
Marlow was also at RDC last season, but didn’t try out.
“We’ll be fine in goal,” said Weddell. “In fact I expect a real battle for the backup position to Chapman.”
Weddell’s biggest smile comes when he talks about his defence.
He has all six starters back from last season — second-team all-star Lindsay Hogg, Janel Lirette, Allison McDonald, Kimberlee Day, Mike Strueby and Becky Bohlender — and has added Emily Hnatiuk of Bentley, who was a second-team all-star with MacEwan last season, and Brandi Buss of the Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs major midget squad.
As well, Caitlin Couronne of the Chiefs and Carly Anderson of Stettler stood out Saturday.
“We’ll definitely have eight or nine defencemen, but the great thing is they’re good athletes and we’ll look at switching a couple of them to forward,” said Weddell. “I know Anderson has played some forward and a couple of the girls we had last year have the speed and ability to make the switch.”
Nnatiuk wasn’t on the ice Saturday as she recovers from a shoulder injury. Forward Brittany Erlandson of Saskatoon was also unable to show her skills as she has a slight ligament strain in her knee.
Up front Chiefs grad Jessica Abt, whose sister Megan is one of the team’s top returning forwards, has committed to next season while Montanna Noyes of Spruce Grove caught everyone’s attention with her speed and ability.
Noyes played one season with Spruce Grove after spending a year with the Edmonton Chimos senior squad.
As well first-team all-star winger Karla Bourke and centres Chantal Froehler and Ashley Blacquiere will all return as will Charlee Mappin, Treena Dodd, Amber Graham and Nicky Doiron.
Weddell also hopes to have at least one other forward from the Edmonton Thunder in camp in the fall.
“There are two girls we’re looking at, but they’re playing in the Western championships, so they’re unable to be here this weekend,” he explained.
“But overall I’m pleased with the level of talent we have on hand. I certainly believe we’ll be better next year and with more depth. Our key forwards are all returning as are our top four defencemen.
“I like the talent coming in and at this point some of our returning players will have some work to do to keep their spots. But that’s exactly what you want.”
Contact Danny Rode at firstname.lastname@example.org