It was tight all the way until the final buzzer but the Red Deer Polytechnic Queens got the upper hand over the Lakeland Rustlers 2-1 Friday night.
The two teams went to battle in the first game of a best-of-three Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) women’s hockey semi-finals.
Queens’ head coach Kelly Coulter said some details were missing from their game but that’s to be expected when emotions are so high.
“Sometimes the emotions get the better of you but you win on execution. We know they’re a tough team they’re always going to come at you so thankfully one of our veterans stepped up with a really nice goal on a simple play. We got rewarded for it,” he said.
The Queens struck first in the opening period on the powerplay when Natalie Buttle fired it in off the pass from Abby Soyko.
However, Lakeland answered less than 10 seconds later to tie the game 1-1.
Red Deer regained the lead in the second period scored by third-year forward Madison Sansom three and a half minutes into the frame. Soyko posted her second assist of the game on the tally.
The Rustlers pushed for a tie in the final period but goaltender Izzy Palumbo made some important stops late in the period to keep Red Deer on top. The second-year netminder made 23 saves in the effort.
“Izzy played a calm game. She didn’t get too worked up and again she was there when we needed her. We’re very fortunate that we have that luxury with all of our goalies,” Coulter said.
The Queens bench boss didn’t say who would be in net for game two but explained they have faith in all three goaltenders to get the job done.
Red Deer got into a bit of penalty trouble throughout the game taking 12 penalty minutes. However, the penalty kill came up big preventing the Rustlers from scoring a powerplay goal.
“Honestly I thought all the penalties were a little bit questionable or soft in my opinion. I haven’t been able to watch the tape so maybe they were the correct calls but nothing I was overly concerned about,” he explained.
The Queens and Rustlers will play game two Saturday night in Lakeland and if Red Deer is victorious they’ll advance to the ACAC finals which are set to begin in a week.
“We’ve been playing really well in the last half of the regular season. Our first periods have had a lot of jump, a lot of forecheck where we’ve been able to roll the lines,” he said.
“Some of the players that we have in the lineup are a little bit inexperienced compared to their teammates so I think sometimes there’s butterflies. Let’s hope for tomorrow they’d have gotten rid of that,” he added.