Cougars 5 Queens 4 (OT)
Up 4-0 early in the second period it appeared all the RDC Queens needed to do was play their game and they had the best-of-five Alberta Colleges Women’s Hockey League semifinal series against the Mount Royal University Cougars even at one.
But the Cougars showed why they’re the top ranked team in the league and that combined with a couple of goals netminder Camille Trautman would have liked back, and a missed call by the officials led to a 5-4 overtime victory by the Cougars.
The Cougars tied the game with a pair of power play goals in the third period, then notched the winner at 6:31 of the 10-minute first extra session, seconds after winning a draw in the RDC end. The draw came about after a blown call by the officials.
“A player touched the puck in front of all three coaches on the bench,” fumed Queens head coach Trevor Keeper. “We could see it clearly. It was the second time in the game and the official wouldn’t come over and talk to be me. That’s what really annoys me. There’s some good referees in our league, but when a referee doesn’t have the confidence to come over and explain her calls and communicate they don’t belong refereeing at this level. We had to beat Mount Royal and the official at home, which is very frustrating.”
Despite several questionable calls, and non calls, the Queens appeared to have the game in control after scoring three times in two minutes and 35 seconds in the second period to take a 4-0 lead.
Natasha Steblin put the Queens up 1-0 in the first period on a spectacular individual effort as the first-year rearguard burst down the left wing, cut past a defender and picked the top corner on netminder Kendall Kilgour.
Gillian Altheim slammed home a rebound 13 seconds into the second period with Kelly-Anne Roberts scored at 1:11, which brought an end to Kilgour’s day. Jessica Ross came on and Megan Abt made it 4-0 at 2:47 on the power play.
The Queens continued to control the play and missed a glorious opportunity to make it 5-0 when Altheim was stopped on a breakaway by Ross.
Shyla Stadnick finally gave the Cougars some momentum at 12:09 when her shot from the left circle went in the short side off Trautman’s glove. Mackenzie Duncan made it 4-2 at 13:36 on a play where there appeared to be goalie interference.
“We knew when we went up 4-0 they were going to push back, just like we did early in the second,” said Keeper. “Even when it was 4-2 the girls were poised and calm. There was no panic on the bench and when they tied it the girls played like they were going to win.”
The Queens controlled play in the extra period, outshooting the Cougars 5-0 until the winning goal by Chrissy Hodgson.
Karlie Martens and Taralynn Suzuki connected in the third period for MRU.
“Overall we did a lot of things we wanted to do in a playoff game, like blocking shots and trying to get shots on their goaltenders, who were giving our a lot of rebounds in the previous game (a 2-0 MRU win Saturday),” said Keeper.
Queens veteran defenceman Alana Duncan, who is the lone rearguard back this season, feels they’re not out of it.
“We plan on winning the next one,” she said. “We’ve beaten them twice before and last year SAIT came back and beat them three straight, so we can do it as well. We won’t give up.”
She did say they were a little frustrated following the loss.
“We are, maybe even upset, but right now I’m not sure how to feel. All the girls wanted this and then there were a couple of bad calls and bad bounces.”
“The girls are annoyed,” added Keeper. “It’s a bitter pill to swallow to see the other team win when we had the game in control. But things happened out of our control . . . it happens in hockey.”
The third game goes Friday in Calgary with the fourth, if necessary, Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Arena.