The Red Deer Polytechnic Queens began the new year the same way they ended 2022, with a 2-1 win.
This time around the Queens defeated the league-best NAIT Ooks to begin the second half of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) season.
With a 5-2 record, the defending ACAC champions sit in second place in the standings behind NAIT.
The 2-1 win at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre in Red Deer Sunday was a big victory for the home team after losing to NAIT in November.
“I thought we executed the gameplan we had to play against NAIT I’d say 60 per cent of the time,” said Queens’ head coach Kelly Coulter.
“It’s always a challenge when both teams are coming out of a long break. I felt the pace at times was lacking but that was to be expected.
“They’re a very good opponent and it was nice to have them right out of the gate because I think it got our juices flowing to reboot the competitive mindset of our athletes.”
With a 4-2 start in the first half, Coulter was satisfied with how they played but explained the challenges of finding consistency because of the time in between games.
“It’s really hard to see some continuity when you’re trying to put some new defensive pairings together… Overall happy with how they’ve played and the new players have been able to pick up and integrate into how we play very quickly,” he said.
With 13 games left, Coulter would like to see his squad score more goals which he said comes with generating more shots with traffic in front of the net. So far they’ve only averaged two goals per game.
Burying those types of chances when they’ve presented themselves has been an issue so far as well as attacking with pace through the neutral zone.
What they do well Coulter added is execute their defensive zone systems and keep the puck out of their own net.
The Queens have run with a goaltending trio of third-year Madison Fox, second-year Tanya Disotell-Dunsmore, and second-year Izzy Palumbo.
“We were fortunate all three of our goalies from our championship season last year returned so that gave us a better picture of what we had,” he said.
“We feel that all three are starters in this league… We’re hoping this is a bigger view of 13 games coming up to give us an idea of who’s rising up to the top.”
Offensively, second-year forward Jailyn Bablitz has led the way with seven points (three goals and four assists) followed by third-year forward Avery Lajeunnesse with six points (four goals and two assists).
The coaching staff has been impressed with first-year players defenceman Kaedence Mollin, forward Hailey Mcavena, defenceman Sarah Raymond, defenceman Jessica Bouffard, forward Tasha Barsby, and forward Molly Flynn.
“They’ve only played six games and they’ve integrated very quickly and very well,” Coulter said. “It’s hard to tell they’re first-year players.”
With not much turnover from last year’s team, the goal for the Queens is to push for another championship.
“The challenge I find is winning after winning is always the hardest thing,” he added.