Trojans 4 Queens 3 (OT)
The RDC Queens aren’t exactly where they want to be, but they’re slowly heading in the right direction.
That was evident Thursday, despite dropping a 4-3 overtime decision to the SAIT Trojans in Alberta Colleges Women’s Hockey League play at the Arena.
The Queens battled back from a 3-1 deficit in the third period, something that was unlikely to happen earlier in the season.
“I was happy with the way we came back,” said Queens head coach Rob Weddell. “Disappointed we gave up the goals while shorthanded, but SAIT is a good team with good offensive players.”
One of the Queens strengths is their youth, which includes rookie winger Rachael Hoppins, who has started to show her offensive talents as the year wears on.
“It was a big change from midget, but a good change,” said the 18-year-old Trochu native. “Coming in I was a bit shaky, but the players and coaches were awesome and they made me feel right at home.”
Hoppins, who is a grad of the Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs major midget program, was teammate with several members of the Queens, which helped her adapt.
“I knew some of the players, plus Becca (Glackin) is in her first year and we’ve been together for a couple of years, so it was good to have someone in the same boat.”
Hoppins has four goals and four assists and sits second in team scoring, two behind leader Montanna Noyes (seven goals, three assists).
“It feels good to know you’re fitting in and doing alright,” added Hoppins, who has been taking a regular shift on the team’s top two lines.
“That’s a huge confidence boost, knowing the coaches trust me and put me out there.”
Hoppins likes what she sees with the Queens, although they’re still battling to catch fifth-place Grant MacEwan, who is three points ahead.
“We had some issues prior to Christmas, but the players who didn’t want to be here are gone and everyone in that room wants to be here. We’re a small group, but have a lot of heart.
“We showed that tonight. We battled hard in that third period and got a much-needed point.”
Hoppins is taking open studies and looks to get into the nursing program next year, so she’ll be around for some time.
After a scoreless opening period, mainly thanks to netminder Kendra Lakeman, who made 12 saves in the first 20 minutes, the Trojans opened the scoring nine seconds into the middle stanza when former University of Wisconsin forward Tia Hanson notched the first of her two goals.
Chantal Froehler evened the score at 13:47 while shorthanded. Froehler and Jessica Abt, broke away with Abt laying a perfect pass to Froehler, who one-timed the puck past SAIT netminder Christie Lowe.
However, the Trojans regained the lead as the Queens were assessed back-to-back penalties late in the period. Lindsey Audia scored at 17:51 while RDC was two players short and Hanson connected 21 seconds later, while still on the power play.
“We folded our tents a bit in the second period, but I liked the gritty way we came back in the third,” said Weddell. “We got a break on Froehler’s second goal (at 7:47) as it went in off a defender’s skate, but we haven’t had a lot of those breaks this season. Then Monty (Noyes) made a good heads-up one-timer on a nice feed from Jess (Abt). It was nice to see the girls play like that.”
The Queens had their chances in the overtime, twice sliding the puck just past the open corner, but Audia gave SAIT the victory, slamming home a rebound at 3:53 of the five-minute extra period.
“It was there and we went for it as it didn’t matter if SAIT got the extra point or not,” said Weddell, who credited Lakeman for the point they did pick up.
“For us to be successful we need good goaltending, which we had tonight. In fact that was the third game in a row she’s been outstanding.”
l Lakeman made 35 saves while the Queens had 21 shots on Lowe . . . The teams meet again tonight at SAIT . . . The Queens return home Thursday against NAIT,