Image courtesy of NAIT Athletics flickr account
The 2017-18 ACAC Women’s Hockey playoffs start at 7:00 pm on February 23 at the NAIT arena. The third seeded Red Deer College Queens are playing the second seeded NAIT Ooks in a best of three series to determine who will move on to the championship round.
The Ooks have home rink advantage as a result of boasting a better record (18-4-2) than the Queens (14-5-5). The Ooks looked primed for a first place finish, until the past weekend where they lost two straight regular season games to the Kings, getting overtaken in the standings by the red-hot MacEwan Griffins. This playoff round looks like it’s going to be a doozy as these two teams are only separated by five points after the 24 game season. The Ooks are first in categories such as goals (82) assists (105) goals-per game (3.45) and power-play percentage (21.4%).
The Red Deer College Queens are second in categories like power-play percentage (13.3%) and penalty kill percentage (90.3%). A lot of the Ooks production is the result of the high playmaking abilities from players such as Kendra Hanson, Verca Kuzelova, Carlin Boey, and Alica Mihalikova. Kendra Hanson is leading the league in points (26), and is in second for goals (13) and assists (13). Verca Kuzelova leads the league in goals (14) and is second in points (21). Carlin Boey is third in assists (12) and is tied with her teammate Alica Mihalikova for fourth in points (17). Mihalikova is ranked below Boey in assists (10).
Deanna Martin, head coach for the NAIT Ooks women’s hockey team, believed these players could continue to perform the same in the playoffs.
“I think any coach would and we do as well. I think they’re obviously going to be pressured quite hard and covered quite heavily but I think they’ll be a part of our success no different than any other player as well on the team.”
Red Deer may not have as many players in the top five of many categories like the Ooks do; but they do have two players, Julia Murrell and Jade Petrie are tied for third in goals (10). The Ooks boast a great net minding duo of Tara Bouvette and Karlee Fetch, both of which have eight wins this season. So who will get the start in goal?
“I think you and a lot of people are wondering that question that we don’t have the answer to yet. I think they’ve both been strong and obviously we’re spending some time talking about that and trying to make the best decision. I don’t know if that decision has been made yet at this point. I think they’re both going to see playoff action. They both have had strong seasons, it’s going to be a tough decision and that’s what we want.”
Martin believes that the Ooks just need to continue working on what they’re already good at.
“I think we just focus on being sharp. We focus on being better on the things we’re good at, and obviously having to tweak some things. We were swept on the weekend first time all season we don’t get swept often (swept by Red Deer) we’re wanting to make sure we’re doing things we do well, even better.”
The season was a success for both teams. Puck drop for Game 1 is 7:30 at the NAIT Arena.