Kaely McMurtry will reach a milestone when she steps on the ice tonight against the Ooks at the NAIT Arena, playing her 100th regular season game with the RDC Queens.
“Really I honestly didn’t know that … it’s kind of awesome,” said the speedy winger from Port Coquitlam, B.C.. “It’s a good feeling to be here for five years, and not only contribute to the team, but get my Bachelor of Education — Middle School degree out of it. I think that’s a nice accomplishment.”
Queens head coach Kelly Coulter isn’t surprised to see McMurtry reaching the century mark in games played.
“She’s always one of our top fitness athletes … one of the most fit for several years now,” he said. “There’s never any doubt she’s in fantastic shape and a real leader in that way, working with the younger girls in learning about fitness and nutrition.”
Kaely is one of two fifth-year players on the Queens, joining Keinyn Nordell, who reached the 100 games played prior to last weekend’s twin bill against SAIT, and is enjoying the role of a leader.
“There are three true veterans on the team and we have a bigger role to fill and it’s a good feeling being one of the veterans to step up when needed to help the girls be accountable on and off the ice.”
McMurtry plays with star rookie Veronika Bucifalova and second-year winger Camryn Wallan, combining for one of the top lines in the league. Both Kaely and Bucifalova are tied for the league-lead in goals with six with Bucifalova leading the league with 11 points. McMurtry has nine.
“Kaely is a very skilled player and compliments Veronika, who matches her calibre and skill,” said Coulter. “Cam is a strong defensive player and good positionally.”
McMurtry, who has 26 career goals, is coming off a a season where she scored just once.
“It was a different year where I felt I was needed to pass the puck more,” she said. “This year I’m still expected to pass, but also shoot more. We have a line that can do it all. Even though we had a great line last year, this year I’m expect to take the shot more.”
“She also has more shooting opportunities, with Veronika feeding her the puck,” added Coulter. “And Kaely has a quick release and great hands.”
McMurtry agrees playing with Bucifalova adds to her game.
“She has great vision,” she said. “Plus our line really works well together. We have great input on the bench … good conversation with each other where we keep each other accountable.
“We have a good time and joke around, but also take it seriously when we need to. If someone is screwing up or missing plays we’re good in that we let each other know.”
Kaely is also one of the premier skaters in the league and playing on the Olympic ice surface at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre suits her game.
“I feel I can skate more and put more pressure on the defence and cause turnovers,” she said. “As well there are more soft spots and open areas where you can make plays you can’t in the old rinks.”
McMurtry is glad to get the opportunity to play a season in the new facility.
“It feels more like home,” she said. “We’re here with the gym and with the other teams … it’s a great atmosphere.”
Kaely played the first two years with the Queens at the old Red Deer Arena and two years at the Centrium.
“The Arena was like home and while the Centrium was an amazing facility it didn’t feel like home. Now we can put our roots down somewhere we can call home forever.”
McMurtry will receive her B of Education — Middle School degree this year, starting her nine-week practicum Feb. 11 at St. Thomas.
The Queens, 4-4, will host the Ooks, 8-2, Saturday at 7 p.m.
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at email@example.com