EDMONTON (February 11, 2012) -- First to worst has an awful ring to it. But it's the dubious path taken over the past 11 months by the SAIT Trojans women's hockey team.
The Trojans, reigning Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) champions after a shocking three-game sweep of the virtually unbeatable Mount Royal University Cougars last March, were officially eliminated from playoff contention on Saturday night with a 4-2 loss to the NAIT Ooks in Edmonton.
"A disappointing season for the players, a disappointing season for the coaching staff," said fourth-year head coach Terry Larson. "I think (assistant captain) Melanie Vincent said it: 'Last year we win it all, and here we are not even making playoffs this year.' "
Only nine days ago, the Women of Troy seemed to have a comfortable hold on the ACAC's fourth and final playoff spot, with a five-point lead over the cellar-occupying Red Deer College Queens. But the Queens (7-11-4) have won five of their past seven, while the Trojans (6-12-6) finished up their regular-season schedule Saturday with just one win in their final nine assignments (1-7-1).
While the Trojans and Queens both have 18 points, SAIT will finish in the conference basement. Red Deer owns the tiebreaker with more regulation wins, and has two more regular-season games remaining against NAIT to pad its points total.
Saturday night, the Trojans rallied from a 1-0 deficit as captain Rylee Scott (3rd year, Bentley, Alta., dental assisting) and fellow forward Becca Glackin (2nd year, Red Deer, Alta., emergency medical technology) scored in the first 10 minutes of the second period.
But the Ooks tied the game before the second period was out, and NAIT defenceman Karli Reeve notched the winner 5:29 into the third.
Teammate Taryn McCormick iced the game with an insurance marker at 16:53.
"We played really tough. We got up in the game, but a couple of real bad bounces and it turned the other way," said Larson. "The league was so tight this year, and we tied too many games that we needed to win.
"We just didn't have the scoring touch. We couldn't score goals this season," added Larson, whose squad tallied 41 times in 24 games, an average of 1.78. "We were in games, but we just couldn't get that extra goal, or those extra two goals, to make the difference."
Tehnille Gard (2nd year, Yellowknife, NWT, business administration) faced 37 shots in the loss, while the Trojans fired 21 pucks at NAIT's Jill Diachuk in the loss. The visitors were zero-for-six with the power play, while the hosts were zero-for-four.
Vincent (5th year, Ladysmith, B.C., medical laboratory technology) finished her collegiate career on Saturday as the all-time games-played leader in a Trojans uniform, with a total of 117.
"Hats off to Red Deer. They were hot over the last couple of weeks, and we just weren't winning," said Larson.