With the playoffs just around the corner, the Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs Midget AAA hockey team are right in the thick of things.
The Chiefs, who currently hold a 14-6-1-4 record in league play, have been among the toughest teams in the Alberta Major Midget Female Hockey League this season.
“(The season) started off pretty slow. We didn’t get any wins in our first six or seven league games. But after that we turned it around,” said Head Coach Trevor Thomas about his team’s play this season.
The Chiefs currently sit in fourth place in the AMMFHL behind the Calgary Fire in third, the Sherwood Park Fury, who are in second place, and the Rocky Mountain Raiders in first. Just two points separate the Chiefs and the Fury in the standings.
“We’ve got seven league games left. We figure that we probably have to play about .750 hockey to get a top three spot, which was our goal,” Thomas said.
In order to achieve that goal, the team will have to win at least five of their remaining seven games, including a crucial one against Sherwood Park on Feb. 19th.
“Basically it’s just kind of staying the course. We talked about the process and we talked about what good happens and when we do that, we seem to have success. We have a good skill base, we have a lot of returning players from the Esso Cup last year who have kind of gone through the war.”
Last weekend, that success continued for the Chiefs during the Fraser Valley Rush’s Invitational tournament in Langley, B.C.
The team posted a 4-0-1 record through the first two days of the eight team tourney to earn themselves a spot in Sunday’s final game, during which they came away with a 1-0 win over the Okanagan Lakers to claim the gold medal.
Unfortunately for the Chiefs, their success at the tournament wasn’t without a price, as they suffered a trio of major injuries over the course of the weekend.
“We went through the whole season without any significant injuries and we lose probably one of our best forwards this weekend, which is going to put a damper on things. But we’ll have to pick each other up,” Thomas said.
He added the team’s main focus now is on the final seven games and the playoffs afterwards.
“We need to play better in our own end. That’s the first thing we talked about,” he said, adding the team also needs to work on generating more offense.
“We don’t score a lot of goals when we start getting cute. We have to get to the tough areas of the rink to score goals. When we do that, we have success. In terms of playoffs, we know it’s going to be tough to score. We’re going to have to make sure we get to those areas.”
Thomas said while his team is not the strongest in the league offensively, they have still found ways to score.
“We have a big, strong team. We’re a pretty tenacious team and we’re not an easy team to play against because of that,” he said, adding the team’s strength allows them to generate a lot of offensive opportunities.
“There’s no hitting in girls’ hockey but we still intimidate a lot of teams just with our size and our strength.”
The Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs play their next home game on Valentine’s Day against the Lloydminster PWM Steelers. Puck drop is at 2:15 p.m. at the Collicutt Centre.