Emily Swier wasn’t around to play with the RDC Queens hockey team last season, but then she had a good excuse – she got married.
But Swier (nee Lougheed) admitted that she missed being around the game and team too much to stay away.
“I missed the game and the girls … I wanted a chance to come back and play with everyone again and have a chance when it’s still here,” said the talented winger, who scored once and added an assist as the Queens opened their Alberta Colleges Women’s Hockey League regular season with a 4-2 win over the Grant MacEwan University Griffins at the Arena Thursday.
Swier was married Aug. 29 and didn’t play any hockey until after Christmas.
“I played a bit with the (junior A Central Alberta) Amazons and that kind of got the bug back,” she said.
When Swier did return to the Queens it was like old-home week as her long-time line mates, not only with the Queens but with the major midget Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs – Ashley Graf and Jade Petrie – were also both in camp. Petrie also returned after taking a year off.
“We’ve played together for years and know exactly where each of us will be. In fact they know where I will be better than I do,” she said with a laugh. “But it’s a lot of fun being with them again.”
“They are an outstanding line,” said Queens head coach Kelly Coulter. “They played very well. Their forecheck turned over the puck and created several scoring chances. It’s nice to have a line that works so well together.”
All three members of the line have their scoring opportunities and while Swier and Graf each tallied once Swier feels they’ll only get better as they progress.
“We’re just getting back into the swing of things and we’ll begin to capitalize on more of those chances,” she said. “I know myself the tough part about coming back was getting into shape and back into the groove. I have to put in a lot of hours, which is different than being away.”
Swier notched the Queens third goal at 4:01 of the second period redirecting a Petrie pass under GMU netminder Cheyenne Eagle to make the score 3-1. After Kailie Bell made the score 3-2 on the Griffins second power play goal of the game, Graf tucked in a loose puck at the side of the net after Swier just missed on a one-timer.
Michelle Pochapsky opened the scoring for the Griffins at 6:18 of the first period with Cassidy Anderson tying it at 10:08 on a spectacular rush, beating both defencemen and tucking it past Eagle.
Morgan Fraser scored her first ACAC goal at 3:25 of the second period as she cut past the defence and rifled a perfect shot high to Eagle’s glove side.
“I was happy with what I saw tonight,” said Coulter. “The girls executed well. We came out with a lot of jump, we communicated and did a lot of little things we’ve been talking about.”
The fact the Queens have a veteran team allowed them to shake off the early Grant MacEwan goal.
“Being a veteran team they understand there will be ebbs and flows,” he said. “That was a great response on Cassidy’s goal. There was a great pass to move the puck up on the rush and that was a great finish.”
The one aspect of the game that didn’t look sharp was the penalty kill and the power play.
“We haven’t started working on that much,” said Coulter. “We’ve spent more time on breaking out, supporting each other, coming out of the defensive zone and regroups. Special teams are something that will improve as we progress and focus more on them.”
Alex Frisk, who red shirted last season, won her first start for the Queens and was sharp in finishing with 22 saves.
“Alex did a very good job, she made some key saves and managed the puck well, which made it easier on our defence,” said Coulter.
The Queens finished with 32 shots on Eagle and took three of six minor penalties.
The Queens visit the Griffins Saturday and return home Thursday against SAIT.