When the Red Deer College Queens Hockey team faces-off against the NAIT Ooks, it often is a significant game for both sides and tonight was no exception. The teams entered tonight's contest at the ENMAX Centrium tied for top spot with 23 points in the ACAC Women's Hockey standings. NAIT opened the scoring in the 2nd period, the Queens tried to push back but couldn't solve the Ooks goaltender. Eventually, NAIT scored an empty net goal and won 2-0 in a close contest.
Tracie Kikuchi started in goal for the Queens while McKenna Wild was between the pipes for the Ooks. Within a few minutes of the opening face-off, each goaltender was tested but looked sharp turning aside the opportunities.
With about 6 minutes remaining in the 1st period, NAIT came close when they rattled a shot off the crossbar. Moments later, Kirsten Baumgardt of the Queens had a good wrap around attempt but was stopped.
After 20 minutes of play, each goaltender turned aside 9 shots.
NAIT's Carlin Boey opened the scoring at 6:23 of the 2nd period when she scored high on the glove side to put the Ooks up 1-0. The Queens pushed back in an attempt to tie the game. With about 12 minutes left in the middle frame, Kaely McMurtry skated in alone for the Queens and tried to score between the pads but Wild shut the door. About 5 minutes later, the RDC Queens had another great chance. Jessica Anderson made a nice cross-ice pass and Emily Swier one-timed her shot high to the blocker side but Wild got a piece of the it and kept the puck out.
In the 2nd period, RDC had 8 shots on Wild while NAIT directed 15 shots at Kikuchi.
The Queens had the majority of the play in the 3rd period. They pressed and came close to tying the game on several occasions. With time running down in the final frame, Queens Head Coach Kelly Coulter pulled Kikuchi in favour of the extra skater. With 1:16 remaining in the game, Lindsey Roth found the open net to give the Ooks a 2-0 victory.
The Queens outshot the Ooks 10-6 in the 3rd period. Over 60 minutes, NAIT slightly outshot RDC 31-28.
Queens Head Coach Kelly Coulter credited NAIT on the night.
"I thought we gave an inconsistent effort tonight and that's the result you get. Hats off to NAIT. They played a smart game and moved the puck well," said Coulter. "NAIT did a better job of boxing out in front of the net and blocking shots. We need to get those shots through. We have to bury our scoring chances but their goaltender played very well tonight."
Coulter is looking for the Queens to make some adjustments on Saturday.
"We have to do a better job of making NAIT protect their defensive zone, use our cycle and get pucks to the net. A few players had a number of scoring chances tonight. It is a matter of burying them in tight. Goaltenders in this league are very good. Kaely (McMurty) had a number of chances. Jade (Petrie) was around the net," said Coulter. "I think we have to do a better job of getting pucks into their zone, maintaing puck possession, getting them to collapse and sending pucks on net. We didn't really drive pucks through the neutral zone very well. We let them clog it up in the neutral zone with their 1-2-2. We need to move the puck more crisply and we didn't do that. We overhandled the puck way too many times and let them get into the passing lanes."
Both goaltenders were sharp and named the player-of-the-game for their respective teams. Wild stopped 28 shots while Kikuchi turned aside 29-of-30 shots. The Queens effectively killed off all 5 of the NAIT power plays.
In Edmonton, the same 2 teams face-off Saturday, Jan. 21 at 6:00 p.m.