Brent Forster – RDC
Red Deer, AB – For the Red Deer College Queens, it was a must win situation at the Servus Arena on Saturday evening. After the Griffins took game one in the best of three semi-final on home ice, the Queens had to come up victorious to push the series back to Edmonton. Backstopped by a remarkable 34 save performance from Karlee Fetch, the Queens scored a pair of power play goals, defeating the Griffins 2-1 in overtime to extend the series.
The first period featured strong defensive coverage from both teams and unbeatable goaltending. RDC's Fetch was the busier netminder, but was outstanding with 15 saves. MacEwan's Sandy Heim contended with seven shots.
At 8:18 of the second, the RDC Queens broke the deadlock. With a Griffins player off serving two minutes, Mairead Bast fired a low shot under Heim's glove for an important 1-0 edge. Kaely McMurtry and Mary Hirsch had the assists.
Colby Brochu Photography
The Griffins applied pressure early in the third period. At 4:44, MacEwan's Jayme Doyle finally got one past Fetch. Doyle beat the RDC netminder high on the glove side for the equalizer. With time winding down, McMurtry had an opportunity to give the Queens a lead, but her shot rattled off the post. After 60 minutes, the Griffins outshot the Queens 35-18.
In overtime, the Queens were awarded a power play and they cashed in. At 2:26, Sydnee Decorby found the back of the net with traffic in front of Heim, and the RDC Queens celebrated, sealing a 2-1 victory. Bast had the lone assist.
Queens Hockey Head Coach Kelly Coulter was proud of the effort, especially in their own zone. "I thought we did a better job defensively. They are a very good team in terms of generating offence," he said. "We did a better job of checking tighter and blocking shots like we have to."
Karlee Fetch was named the Queens Player-of-the-Game. Fetch, a fourth-year Open Studies student from Prince Albert, stopped 34 out of 35 shots (0.971). Kyrelle Skoye received the award for the Griffins.
Colby Brochu Photography
"I thought Karlee played great in net again tonight for us. She is a veteran and has been in the league for a while now," said Coulter. "She knows how to prepare. She knows how to focus. I think it took her a bit to get comfortable in our dressing room after leaving NAIT. One of the reasons we wanted to bring her in is because she has experience. It's definitely showing right now and she's playing great."
The RDC Queens' special teams were one of the difference makers. Besides striking twice with the extra skater, the Queens killed off all five of the Griffins' man advantages.
Looking towards the third game of the semi-final, the Queens need another cohesive performance. "Everyone has to be pulling the rope the same way. I felt that it took all 16 girls on the bench and our goaltender. It has to be everyone doing whatever they can to win," said Coulter. "You see players blocking shots. Others got two or three shifts in a period, but did whatever they could to help us win, and that's what playoff hockey is all about."
In lieu of a ticket, generous hockey fans donated $655.50 for the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre (CASASC).
The MacEwan University Griffins will host the Red Deer College Queens on Sunday, March 3 at 1:00 p.m. The winner will face the NAIT Ooks in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) Women's Hockey Championship. NAIT defeated Olds College 3-0 and 4-1 to advance to the finals.
"It's a special time of the season and hopefully tomorrow the players are all in again, and we have a great battle," said Coulter.