The top midget ‘AA’ hockey teams from across the province gathered at the Red Deer Arena this past weekend to compete for the 2015 provincial championship title.
The Red Deer Indy Graphics Chiefs found themselves in the gold medal game against the Calgary Royals on Sunday afternoon after winning their five previous tournament games.
Head Coach of the Chiefs Al Sim said the tournament could be a grueling one as the athletes play six games in four days.
“The players can get pretty banged up in those games,” said Sim. “But they really all pushed their bodies to the line and we couldn’t be more proud of them.”
The final game against the Royals saw a scoreless first period for both teams despite 13-14 shots on net respectively.
Fatigue set in for the Chiefs’ second period with the Royals scoring a trio of goals. This left the Chiefs down 3-0 in the third with some work to do.
Despite the upset on the scoreboard the Chiefs rallied and pushed back to score three goals from Declan Johnson, Lane Sim and Mack Differenz in the last 10 minutes of play in the third period sending the game into overtime.
“Our athletes had been in that spot quite a few times this season,” explained Sim. “So they knew what they had to do to weather the storm and be able to make that comeback in the third.”
After five minutes of overtime play, Calgary landed what Sim called a ‘one in a million goal’ on the Chiefs’ goalie.
“The goal came from an incredibly talented young player,” he said. “He was able to bury the puck in a spot that was maybe two puck widths wide and scored a great goal to end the game.”
This left the Chiefs with silver medals around their necks for the 2014/2015 provincial season, but they will be vying for their league title later this week against Strathmore in which they will play one game on Friday and one game on Saturday.
“It was an exciting game to be a part of – exciting for the fans, the players, and Red Deer Minor Hockey,” he said. “The Royals are a well coached team and they were their respective league champions and I truly believe it was the two best ‘AA’ teams in the province at that final game and unfortunately we came up on the short end of the stick this year.”
Sim added he was proud of his team and especially proud of the volunteers who organized such a large tournament so well to ensure it went off with as few hitches as possible.
“When we host tournaments in Red Deer we tend to do it very well,” he said. “The volunteers went over the top for this one and it was very well received by the other teams.”
The 2014/2015 season was an improvement from the Chiefs’ last in which they only made it to the semi-finals of the provincial championships.
Sim said the team went 27-6-2 over the course of the season and has high hopes for this weekend’s game against Strathmore.
“We had a lot of raw talent on our team this year,” said Sim. “They were willing to listen and learn and that makes all of the difference in a team.”
The Indy Graphic Chiefs will spend this week practicing to prepare for their game this weekend in which their coach said will include game video review of their games over last weekend in hopes of capturing their league title this weekend.
The games go Friday and Saturday at 7:45 p.m. at the Red Deer Arena.