Kikuchi solid, Queens drop home game in overtime

Tracie Kikuchi (35) made 34 saves Sunday evening. Photo - Tony Hansen
Tracie Kikuchi (35) made 34 saves Sunday evening. Photo - Tony Hansen

Brent Forster - RDC

Sunday evening, the RDC Queens faced the NAIT Ooks in Red Deer and extra time was needed to decide a winner. In 4-on-4 overtime, NAIT's Megan Leblanc finally got a puck past Tracie Kikuchi who had another great game in net for the Queens.

The first period had a good pace. Both teams were responsible defensively and didn't give up many quality opportunities. Jade Petrie set up one of the best chances in the opening 20 minutes. Petrie carried the puck wide and spotted a streaking Camryn Wallan who quickly released her wrister but the Ooks goaltender, Karlee Fetch, turned it aside. The Queens tested Fetch 6 times while the Ooks had 8 shots on Kikuchi in the opening period.

NAIT started the middle frame with some jump and pressured RDC in their own zone but the Ooks couldn't solve Kikuchi. The Queens pushed back in the latter stages. Kaely McMurtry had a good scoring chance with about 4 minutes remaining. The Bachelor of Education student used her speed up the right side and beat a NAIT defender. McMurtry found herself in alone on Fetch and tried to sneak one between the pads but the third-year goaltender shut the door. NAIT outshot RDC 15-8 in the middle frame.

In the third period, both teams had chances on the power play but they couldn't capitalize. Kikuchi and Fetch were unbeatable in the final frame and the game headed to overtime. The Queens were outshot 11-6 in the period. 

In the 5 minute 4-on-4 overtime period, NAIT struck at 1:32. Carlin Boey set up Megan Leblanc who tipped the pass behind an outstretched Kikuchi. The NAIT Ooks picked up the 1-0 overtime win and the RDC Queens earned 1 point in the standings. 

Queens Hockey Head Coach Kelly Coulter liked the start but noted a lack of execution on face-offs and the power play were costly. "Our first period was very good. NAIT did a good job in the second period and they hemmed us in," said Coulter. "It stresses how important face-offs are and it takes a five man unit to win them. The Ooks won a lot of face-offs. Unfortunately our power play and not burying our scoring opportunities hurt us tonight." 

The RDC Queens went 0-for-4 on the power play. The NAIT Ooks were 0-for-1.

Tracie Kikuchi was named the player-of-the-game for the Queens. The Kinesiology & Sport Studies student stopped 34 out of 35 shots (0.971) and played a major role in the Queens earning a point. Megan Leblanc received the honour for the Ooks.

"Tracie held us in. We've been very fortunate this year because she gives us an opportunity every time she plays," said Coulter. "I thought she played fantastic."

Coulter liked the play from several student-athletes. "I thought that Catherine Longchamps had a really good game on the back end. She really tried to set pins on the wall and she battled hard," said Coulter. "Jade Petrie was trying to create a lot of offence."

The third place RDC Queens (11-5-4-0) will host the fifth place SAIT Trojans (3-14-1-0) at the ENMAX Centrium, Thursday, February 1 at 7:00 p.m. After that game, the Queens will have only three conference games remaining in the regular season.