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Women’s hockey promises exciting season finale

The NAIT Ooks and the Red Deer College Queens traded road wins last weekend, with NAIT picking up a win at Red Deer in Game 1 of the championship final. Red Deer rebounded in a big way picking up a big win Saturday at the NAIT arena. NAIT has knocked off Red Deer in the Finals for three straight seasons, hoping to do it again the fourth time around. If the physicality is any indication of what’s to come ahead in this heated rivalry, then we’re in for a very exciting finale this weekend.

Before the start of the finals, a pair of Ooks were honoured with being named to the Second All Conference team; defenceman Alyssa Imler, a defensive rock for the team all season and at forward Breanna Frasca, who finished first on the team in goal scoring (10) and tied for second in points (14).

Game 1 of the finals kicked off in Red Deer and the Ooks came out guns-blazing firing 11 shots on net in the first period. The pressure would pay off when Kendra Hanson tipped home a shot by Chelsea Gauchier which silenced the Red Deer crowd and put the Ooks up 1-0. In the second Red Deer took a couple of penalties and despite being shorthanded for four minutes, they still managed to outshoot the Ooks 9-5 in the period. Tehnille Gard would stand tall and preserve her team’s lead. At the end of two the shots were 16-15 and the score was 1-0 both in favour of the Ooks.

Two minutes into the third, Queen Katey Mcmurtry takes a cross-checking penalty to put the Ooks on the powerplay early, and the Ooks took advantage. After some good pressure Erika Iglesias managed to find the back of the net after the five feed but Jody Rammel. The Ooks get a huge 2-0 lead early. Three minutes later, Queen Ashley Graf ends Tehnille Gard’s shutout bid with a slick shot make it a one goal game, 2-1 Ooks still. The Queens threw literally everything they could at the Ooks, but Tehnille Gard stood on her top of her head making outstanding saves and single handedly locking the win down for the Ooks as they took a 1-0 series lead heading back to Edmonton.

On Saturday the Ooks were back home to try to jump out to a 2-0 series lead. The first 15 minutes of the game was all Ooks as they outshot Red Deer by as much as 8-1 at one point. Late in the period with the Ooks short-handed, Queen Emily Swier banged home the puck during a scramble in front of the Ooks net to give the Queens their first lead of the series. Late period goals are a back-breaker and the ladies let it get to them.

In the second frame, sloppy defence and bad bounces would let the Queens add two more taking a three nothing despite being outshot 19-17 by the Ooks. In the third the Ooks start to gain some  momentum when Kendra Hanson made a nice dangle in front but missed the net. The Queens took the puck the other way and after about 30 seconds of pressure, fired it home to give the Queens a 4-0 lead. The Queens and Ooks would each add one more to end the game with a 5-1 final.

After the game, defenceman Carlin Boey spoke on her team’s mindset heading into the final weekend of the playoffs. “ We know we can beat them, and this is just I think a game that brought us back to reality. We were riding a 10 game win streak. But now we really gotta focus. Two more wins, It’s really just a best of three going forward so we just need two more wins to get that four-peat.”

Games 3 & 4 will take place in Red Deer on Thursday at 7 PM and back at NAIT on Friday at 3 PM with a possible game 5 set for Saturday back in Red Deer at 2:30 PM.

Nathan Spence

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