Griffins edge Queens in defensive battle

Camryn Wallan (21) had another hard-working effort.
Camryn Wallan (21) had another hard-working effort.

Brent Forster - RDC

Red Deer, AB – Defence and goaltending took centre stage between the RDC Queens and MacEwan University Griffins Friday evening. The Griffins scored the lone goal early in the first period and that was enough, as they picked up a 1-0 decision.

The Griffins entered Friday's contest with the second best power play in the league, operating at 22.9 per cent. The visitors hit the scoresheet first and their special teams played a role. At 4:19 with the extra skater, Chantal Ricker beat Queens goaltender Karlee Fetch. Shyla Jans and Jordyn Reimer picked up the assists. Ricker's tally stopped the Queens' perfect penalty killing streak of 19 consecutive times, over four games.

"I think we did a good job in terms of being in shot lanes and having active sticks. They are a quick team, so you have to be really aware in the d-zone," says Queens Head Coach Kelly Coulter. "Once we got into that d-zone coverage, man-on-man and taking pride in checking your man, I think we limited their offensive chances. Unfortunately, we weren't able to kill the power play and they were able to put one in the net."

Queens forward Mary Hirsch nearly evened the game about halfway through the frame. The second-year Bachelor of Science Nursing student used her speed and intercepted a pass, just missing the top corner on her backhand.

Both teams had a strong defensive game, limiting outnumbered attacks and second chances. There were very few grade "A" offensive opportunities for either side.

The Red Deer College Queens had perhaps their best opportunity to even the contest late in the third period. With 46 seconds remaining in the game, Coulter pulled Fetch in favour of an extra skater. The RDC Queens were also on the power play, but Natalie Bender and the Griffins' defence held off the attack and wrapped up a 1-0 road win.

The Griffins outshot the Queens 18-6.

Karlee Fetch was chosen the Collegiate Sports Medicine Queens Player-of-the-Game, stopping 94.4 per cent of the shots. Chantal Ricker received the honour for the Griffins.

"Karlee is a five-year veteran player. She has composure and doesn't get too razzled," says Coulter. "She's a calming force back there, keeping things simple and I thought she did a good job for us tonight."

RDC went zero-for-four on the power play. MacEwan University connected once on three tries. 

The Griffins blocked many shots and Coulter would like to see faster plays to combat the traffic in front.

"I think we have to move pucks quicker and release them quicker. They are a team that really overloads heavily to the strong side of the puck," he says. "It's about moving the puck smarter to open areas and then getting it to the net and looking for those opportunities. Tonight, that's what we didn't do and I'm not sure if we had more than one scoring chance."

On Saturday, the Griffins (7-0-0-0) will host the Queens (4-1-0-0) in Edmonton at 6:00 p.m.

"Back to the play book and a new game tomorrow," says Coulter.

Funds from the 50/50 draw went towards Hockey Fights Cancer. There will be a second fundraising opportunity on Saturday at the RDC Kings home game.