It’s been a busy time for RDC Queens hockey head coach Bob Rutz.
Rutz has been running ID camps and on the phone for hours since the end of the Alberta Colleges Women’s Hockey League season, recruiting for next season, and there’s a chance he may not even be coaching.
“They’re looking at possibly an on-campus coach,” Rutz explained. “I still want to coach, so we’ll see how it goes.”
Rutz could well fit into the position the college is looking for and he’ll know shortly.
No matter what happens Rutz has put together a strong recruiting class to go with 14 veterans.
The biggest loss could well be in goal with league first-team all-star Camille Trautman moving on. However Moriah Andrews is back for a second year and Rutz is excited about newcomer Summer Roberts from the Regina Rebels of the Saskatchewan Female Midget Hockey League.
Roberts posted a 13-1 record with a 1.50 goals-against-average and a .923 save percentage during the season and was even more spectacular during the playoffs with a 4-1 record, a 0.40 gaa and a .981 save percentage and four shutouts.
“She’s the calibre of player that’s usually scooped up by universities, but we fortunate to get her and she’ll battle with Moriah for a starting spot,” said Rutz.
The Queens lost three of their top four scorers from last season in Jade Petrie, Emily Lougheed and Laura Salomons. However team captain Rachael Hoppins, who was second in team scoring with five goals and nine assists in 18 games, will return along with Jayna Kitchen, Ashley Graf and Hailey Smyl among the eight veterans.
“Skye (Fahlman) will also be back (from her injury) and we expect others like Cassidy Holt to take a step forward offensively in their second year,” said Rutz.
Of the new faces Kelly Shawara played with the Pacific Steelers of the Junior Women’s Hockey League, Crystal Berube comes in from the Prince Albert Bears and Kaely McMurtry from the Fraser Valley Phantoms in B.C.
“Kelly played in a very good program and is close to six-foot and gives us size and talent down the middle,” said Rutz.
“Crystal skates very well and Kaely had a solid season and had a strong playoff.”
Berube had seven goals and 10 assists during the 25 game regular season then added three goals and three helpers in seven playoff games.
McMurtry had six goals and seven assists in 20-game regular season games then added a goal and four assists in four games in the playoffs.
Queens has five defencemen back in Taylor Hall, Casey Nicholson, Rikki Leonard and Megan Jones. Rutz was able to recruit three rearguards in Keinyn Nordell, captain of the Battlefords Sharks of the Saskatchewan League, Ashtin Peterson from the Peace Country Storm and Kailey Butz from Lloydminster.
“The nice thing is all three are regular defencemen, we don’t have to convert them from forward,” said Rutz, who is likely finished recruiting.
“We don’t want too many players, so we don’t have to cut someone, or have too many players sitting out,” he said. “Still we need to have enough depth in case of injuries.”
The Queens finished third last season, losing to the NAIT Ooks in the league semifinal.
“We lost some top players, but I like what I see from our nucleus of veterans. A lot of girls are back with a year under their belts and will expand their game.”