Skating, skill led Queens to championship

When Kelly Coulter stepped onto the ice with the RDC Queens hockey team for the first time this season he didn’t know what to expect. “I didn’t know what to expect in terms of ability and skills,” he said. “But the first day I watched them play their skating stood out. As a team they could all skate. “They had great work ethic and came to the rink every day wanting to learn. They were very competitive athletes and a joy to be around. And in the end their skill level was the biggest thing that stood out to me.”

When Kelly Coulter stepped onto the ice with the RDC Queens hockey team for the first time this season he didn’t know what to expect.

“I didn’t know what to expect in terms of ability and skills,” he said. “But the first day I watched them play their skating stood out. As a team they could all skate.

“They had great work ethic and came to the rink every day wanting to learn. They were very competitive athletes and a joy to be around. And in the end their skill level was the biggest thing that stood out to me.”

That combination not only led to an outstanding regular season as they ran away with the league title, finishing with an impressive 18-3-3 record, but earned them an ACAC championship for the first time since 2002.

Looking back on the season Coulter, who was in his first year with the program after moving from Grande Prairie, looked back at the very first meeting he had with the team’s leadership group.

“I asked them to define what Queens hockey was all about and they defined it as relentless and with a never give up attitude and work ethic. They showed that from the very first game of the season until that final double overtime goal.”

The Queens won the ACAC title with a 4-3 double overtime victory over the NAIT Ooks, winning the best-of-five championship 3-1.

Winning the title against NAIT made it even sweeter.

“I couldn’t think of a better ending than beating the defending champions. A lot of our team wanted redemption after losing to NAIT the past three years (twice in the final) and so you couldn’t write a better story book ending than defeating them in double overtime in their barn.”

The Queens had a strong team returning this season even before veteran players such as Megan Jones, Casey Nicholson and Nikki Connor on defence and Jade Petrie and Emily Swier up front confirmed they’d return.

“I was preaching to them from the start of the season that defence wins championships and adding players of that calibre made us even stronger. When you have a group like that who skates that well and competes that hard it speaks for itself.

“Those girls returning on the back end did a fantastic job defending … the whole team did. That’s my biggest source of pride in that we allowed the fewest goals.”

The Queens had a veteran defence, but two rookie netminders in Jen West and Alex Frisk. But West led the league during the regular season with a 1.22 goals-against-average and a .940 save percentage while Frisk was fourth with a 1.60 gaa and a .928 save percentage.

In the playoffs Frisk played just one game, which was a 25-save shutout against SAIT in the semifinals. West played five games and was the top netminder with a 1.34 gaa and a .950 save percentage.

“I felt all year that both would give us an opportunity to win,” said Coulter. “I can’t say enough about them. When we needed them to pick us up they did.”

The Queens will lose at least five fifth-year players in rearguards Jones, Nicholson and Connor and forwards Jayna Kitchen and Jena Holden.

“They are all big losses, but we appear to have a great core returning … a great group of kids,” said Coulter. “From what I see we could have almost everyone else, but the graduating players back. Still we could lose a couple more if they move on for their education.”

Coulter already has several commitments for next season, plus winning a championship will only help in recruiting. Also it’s expected to be announced shortly where they will play next season, which will also help recruiting.

“It definitely helps recruiting when you win. Also it was a challenge this year in losing our arena and looking for a new home.”

Coulter also gives a lot of credit for the team’s success to his assistant coaches – Laura Salomons, Wes Makofka and Megan Abt.

“I was lucky to have them … they are all fantastic and all different,” said Coulter. “Laura pushes for excellence, Wes is an excellent teacher and Megan is a great team person who helps keep us focused. We had a great balance. I can’t say enough about them. Our success is owed to them.”

Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter, who can be reached at drode@bprda.wpengine.com. His work can also be seen at www.rdc.ab.ca/athleticsblog.

Just Posted

Sylvan Lake man charged with first-degree murder of his dad

A 28-year-old Sylvan Lake man has been charged with the first-degree murder… Continue reading

Red Deer man going to trial on manslaughter

Gabriel Agotic accused of involvement in May 2017 death of Mathiang Chol

Nominees sought for business awards

Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce annual awards program

‘Somewhere to go:’ Sex trafficking victim calls for more safe houses

REGINA — For years, Beatrice Wallace blamed herself. Not only did she… Continue reading

China renews demand on Canada for Huawei executive’s release

BEIJING — China on Wednesday renewed a demand that Canada release a… Continue reading

Maskwacis youth found dead on reserve

The remains of 16 year old Houston Omeasoo found

Duncan announces $30 million to promote safety and inclusiveness in sport

TORONTO — The federal government is investing $30 million over five years… Continue reading

Raptors president Ujiri addresses rare off-court issues during NBA title run

TORONTO — Even a championship can come with hiccups. Toronto Raptors president… Continue reading

Mouse that roared: Disney characters win local union shakeup

ORLANDO, Fla. — The mouse that roared was heard. Months after workers… Continue reading

Soulpepper’s original musical ‘Rose’ among big winners at Dora theatre awards

TORONTO — Soulpepper’s first original musical “Rose” was among the big winners… Continue reading

‘Must work together:’ Alberta legislature boss chides both sides in earplug spat

Legislature boss chides both sides in earplug spat EDMONTON — Alberta’s legislature… Continue reading

‘He’s my son: Accused mother cries at trial over boy who died of meningitis

LETHBRIDGE — The mother of a toddler who died of bacterial meningitis… Continue reading

Licence revoked for doc who used own sperm to artificially inseminate patients

TORONTO — An Ottawa fertility doctor who used his own sperm as… Continue reading

Most Read