Red Deer College Queens unseat NAIT atop Alberta College Athletics Conference standings

Queens 5 Ooks 2

The RDC Queens and NAIT Ooks have possibly the biggest rivalry in the Alberta Colleges Women’s Hockey League.

So the Queens couldn’t have asked for a better gift heading into the Christmas break than a 5-2 victory over the Ooks at the Centrium Tuesday.

“Any time you can beat NAIT it’s important, and going into the break with a win over them is good … it’s nice to finish on a positive note,” said Queens veteran winger Emily Swier, who was named the RDC player of the game. “It was an important win for us,” agreed Queens head coach Kelly Coulter. “We haven’t had a lot of success against them this season so far. There’s been a lot of tight games and we came up on the short end. But our girls stuck to 60 minutes of hockey and game plan and even with the goalie pulled we executed better than we have. It’s good to see going into the break and it’s a well deserved break.”

It’s the fourth time the two have met this season with the Ooks taking 3-2 and 2-1 wins in regulation, and a 5-4 shootout victory.

The defending league champion Queens do sit in first place at 9-3-2, two points up on the Ooks, 9-3-0.

Although they were outshot 10-8 in the first period — mainly because of two penalties — the Queens came out up 1-0 on a shorthanded goal by Julia Murrell, who tipped in a Jessica Anderson shot. The second period was a wild affair with five goals — three by RDC. The Ooks took advantage of a five-minute boarding major to RDC’s Kaely McMurtry at 3:41 of the period to tie the score when Jordyn Tibbatts tipped in a point shot. However, the Queens didn’t fold and Ashley Graf took a pass from Swier as she stood all alone in front of NAIT goaltender Alyssa Moyer and put the Queens in front for good at 9:15.

The goal came after the NAIT defence had vacated the zone.

“They thought they were getting it out but we did a good job of keeping it in (by Landry Derdall) and to be honest I tripped behind the net that’s way I was still there,” said Swier with a laugh. “I saw the goalie put her stick out and lucky Ashley was there.”

Swier then connected at 11:10 completing a nifty three-way passing play between Graf, Jade Petrie and Swier, who cut across in front and tucked the puck into the open corner.

“I can’t say what happened there I kind of black out on those I just hope they go in,” she once again said with a laugh.

But Swier, who was the MVP in last year’s playoffs, Petrie and Graf have been reunited of late by Coulter and the trio are clicking

“It doesn’t matter who I play with I try my best, but we’ve been together since I was 14 and they’re easy to play with,” said Swier. “We’re getting into the swing of things of late.”

NAIT’s Carlin Boey made the score 3-2 at 12:16, scoring on a scramble after RDC netminder Tracie Kikuchi lost her stick, but Julia Wing’s point shot deflected high over Moyer at 14:58 to give the Queens a two-goal lead again.

The Queens dominated play for most of the third period but Kikuchi still made several outstanding saves and =was especially sharp when NAIT pulled their goalie with over two minutes remaining.

“We can always count on Tracie for the second and third efforts,” said Swier. “She’s incredible at tracking the puck. I have a lot of confidence when we’re in the D zone with her there. She goes above and beyond.”

Petrie completed the scoring into an empty net at 19:54.

“In that third period we did a good job of managing the puck and put pressure on them in their zone to take away their outlet lanes,” said Coulter.

The game put an end to five games in 11 day stretch. Swier is looking forward to the month off.

“I’ll have some personal time with my family and just relax,” she said. “I think everyone is feeling it as we’ve had a hectic final stretch.”

The Queens had 30 shots on Moyer and Karlee Fetch, who came in following the fourth RDC goal. Kikuchi faced 31 shots.

Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at drode@bprda.wpengine.com. His work can also be seen at Danny’s blog at rdcathletics.ca

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