Brent Forster - RDC
The RDC Queens entered game four in the best of five Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) Women's Hockey finals needing a win to extend their season. Despite the young Queens showing a solid work ethic, the MacEwan University Griffins locked the game down defensively and earned a 3-1 win to take the series three games to one.
MacEwan University hit the ENMAX Centrium ice with some jump and eventually picked up the first goal on the power play. At 16:26, Amanda Murray beat Tracie Kikuchi on the glove side to push MacEwan University up 1-0. The Griffins defended well and plugged up the middle of their zone. Over 20 minutes, MacEwan University outshot RDC 10-5.
Quickly in the middle frame, the RDC Queens answered back. At 1:40, the Queens responded with a power play goal of their own. Second-year defender Landry Derdall skated up the left side, used the Griffins defenceman as a screen and fired a high wrist shot on Sandy Heim's glove side.
Landry Derdall (12) was effective rushing the puck
Just over 7 minutes later, the Griffins restored their 1 goal edge. Chantal Ricker found herself in alone on Kikuchi and snuck a shot between the pads at 9:05. Late in the period, MacEwan University connected on the power play again to go ahead 3-1. Nikki Reimer capitalized on a bouncing loose puck in front with time winding down. The Griffins tested Kikuchi 12 times. The Queens fired 9 shots at Heim.
In the third period, the Queens skated well and pressed to climb back into the game. The veteran Griffins blocked many shots and made it difficult for the Queens to generate quality offensive opportunities. Queens Hockey Head Coach Kelly Coulter pulled Kikuchi with 3:30 left on the clock for the extra attacker and RDC had some good chances but couldn't find the back of the net. Time expired and the Griffins won 3-1 to claim ACAC gold. The RDC Queens battled hard and earned silver. The Queens outshot the Griffins 9-5 in the final period.
The RDC Queens connected on 1-of-6 power plays. The MacEwan University Griffins went 2-for-3 with the extra skater.
Tracie Kikuchi made 24 saves and was named the player-of-the-game for the Queens. Nikki Reimer received the award for the Griffins and the fourth-year defender from Winnipeg was also chosen as the MVP of the playoffs.
Tracie Kikuchi (35) was one of the most valuable and consistent Queens all-season.
Coulter credited MacEwan University's defence and their ability on the power play. "The Griffins are a good team and they shut us down defensively. Their special teams showed a little better tonight and ours didn't get the job done," said Coulter. "Sometimes that is the biggest difference in the game and hats off to them. They are the defending champions for a reason and they made it hard on us. I'm very proud of our players and the effort that they gave all year."
The experience on the two rosters are a stark contrast. The MacEwan University Griffins have five first-year players. The Red Deer College Queens are comprised of fourteen first-year student-athletes and will use the valuable playoff experience next season. "To win a silver medal with a young group like this is nice. We had very good veteran leadership and the young players saw how Jade Petrie, Emily Lougheed, Julia Murrell and Cassidy Anderson competed to the very end," said Coulter. "It really sets the bar for the players coming back next year. They are very coachable. Our expectations were high off the start and they met every expectation that we had. I'm very proud of them and will look forward to the start of next season in our new building."
The state-of-the-art Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre/Centre des Jeux du Canada Gary W. Harris will open in the fall of 2018 and the RDC Queens will look to add to their hardware.
Since the 2012-13 season, the Red Deer College Queens have won five ACAC medals - three silver, one gold and one bronze.