By DANNY RODE
Special to the Advocate
Griffins 1 Queens 0
There is little to choose between any of the teams in the Alberta Colleges Women’s Hockey League.
RDC Queens head coach Kelly Coulter has said all season that any team could beat any of the other teams, even the last place Olds Broncos.
That was never more evident than in the playoffs where both of last year’s finalists — the defending champion Queens and NAIT Ooks — were eliminated.
Because of a lack of ice time the Queens were forced to play the first two games of the best-of-three semifinals against the MacEwan University Griffins on the road. They managed a split, winning 3-2 in double overtime on Friday, and losing 1-0 in triple overtime on Saturday afternoon. That gave them home ice advantage for the decided game Sunday evening at the Centrium, but the Queens offence dried up as they lost 1-0.
“Hats off to MacEwan,” said Coulter. “They did a good job of keeping us to the outside. Goaltender (Sandy) Heim played extremely well. We knew we had to generate offence and have traffic around her, but she did a good job.”
The win put the Griffins in the final against the SAIT Trojans, who beat NAIT 2-1 in the other series. They won both games on the road and both in overtime — 4-3 on Thursday and 5-4 on Sunday. NAIT won 6-4 at SAIT on Saturday.
Despite the loss, Coulter couldn’t have been happier with the team.
“I’m very happy with the 20 girls in that room and their effort on a nightly basis,” he said. “I’m proud to say they all put in the hard work that defines our team. Even the girls who don’t get as much ice time were there cheering on the team and putting in the energy. What defines Queens hockey is relentless effort and again I think we put that in all the way through and I’m proud of the girls.”
The Queens didn’t get any bounces to go their way over the last two games. In fact a good indication as to their bad luck came in the second period Sunday when Morgan Fraser ripped a shot that had Heim beat, but deflected off the top of her goal stick.
Morgan Casson scored the lone goal at 18:29 of the first period when she grabbed a loose puck during a scramble and slid it under Tracie Kikuchi from the low slot.
Kikuchi and Heim then did their jobs the rest of the way. The Queens had 26 shots on Heim while Kikuchi faced 22.
The Queens will lose four fifth-year players — Suze Vanderlinde, Ashley Graf, Jessica Anderson and Rikki Smith.
The three players who may return for a fifth season — Emily Swier, Jade Petrie and Julia Murrell — could be key to the team’s success next season.
“They’re certainly more than welcome to come back. It would be tough to replace them, but we’ll see. If they don’t it’ll be an opportunity for a new Queen to step in,” said Coulter.