Ooks 3 Queens 2
Thursday may well have been a good indication of just how the Alberta College Women’s Hockey League season has been going for the RDC Queens.
The Queens more than held their own against the second place NAIT Ooks only to have the visitors score with 27.1 seconds remaining in the game to pull out a 3-2 victory at the Arena.
“The second and third periods we played well, particularly in the third, with a lot of pressure, lots of drive and we were getting pucks to the net,” said Queens head coach Trevor Keeper. “We tied it (in the second period) and controlled the third. Unfortunately they made a play behind our net to get their third goal.”
The Queens had all the best scoring chances in the third period and twice had the puck bounce past an open NAIT goal just before an RDC player could get to it. However, the one good chance the Ooks managed came late and Karli Reeve took a pass in front and beat RDC netminder Camille Trautman.
“It was really disappointing as we dominated the last two periods,” said Queens forward Jayna Kitchen.
“We had a lot of chances, but they just weren’t going in for us. I’m sure Trevor said it, but we didn’t get started on time which really hurt us. We didn’t show up until the second period.”
The Queens were outshot 13-3 and trailed 2-0 in the first period. Both goals came on similar cross-crease pass plays with the NAIT player alone at the side of the net. Taryn McCormick and Gabrielle Pelland connected for the Ooks.
“We had a really slow start, especially passing in our end,” said Keeper.
“We consistently made dangerous passes on the ice, up the middle. We had a lot of turnovers as our second person with the puck wasn’t ready either.
“We let NAIT take a 2-0 lead and that’s what cost us the win.”
Kitchen, who got the Queens rolling with a blast from the right circle that beat netminder Jill Diachuk, felt the team may have been nervous in the first period.
“We come to the rink ready, but we’re squeezing our sticks to tight and missing passes. We’re also taking our time and not doing what we need to do as quickly as we can.”
Queens second-year defenceman Alana Duncan tied the score with a point shot that found the top corner on Diachuk while RDC was enjoying a two-man advantage.
Once the Queens found their legs they demonstrated they were quicker than the Ooks, who have 13 veterans on their roster compared to five for RDC.
“We tried to up the tempo of our forecheck and force their defence to turn the puck over and we did a good job,” said Keeper.
“We have more speed than they do, once we got going,” added Kitchen, who felt her goal also picked up the RDC spirits.
“Definitely,” she said. “I just yelled at Brittany (Erlandson) to get me the puck and she did a good job of getting it past their D.”
The loss left the Queens six points back of the SAIT Trojans for the fourth and final playoff spot.
RDC has a game in hand, which they’ll use Saturday at NAIT, and they face SAIT twice more.
“We definitely were looking at picking up at least two points this weekend,” said Keeper. “We need to get a couple of points Saturday, which would take some pressure off us heading into the SAIT series in two weeks.
“The thing is this league is so tight. NAIT is second and we showed we’re right with them.”
Not bad considering the difference in experience between the two teams.
“When we came back after Christmas Trevor told us that we’re no longer a group of rookies,” said Kitchen, who is one of 16 first-year players on the roster. “We played 12 games and age is not a factor. We can’t rely on that as an excuse.”
Trautman finished with 37 saves while the Queens had 24 on Diachuk — 14 in the third period.
The Queens don’t return home until Jan. 26 against SAIT,