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Bandits split pair of games at Western Shield

The Red Deer Bandits had a simple goal heading into the Western Shield women’s AA hockey championships . . . be around to play on Sunday.

They took a step in that direction splitting a pair of games Friday at the Kin City Arenas, beating the Meadow Ridge Moose of B.C. 4-0 in the afternoon before losing 7-1 to the Manitoba Herd in the evening.

“Hopefully we made it to play Sunday, that’s what we were hoping for,” said Bandits head coach Toni Lassu. “We would have liked a better outcome tonight.”

The Bandits used Nikki Ree in goal to give Amy Friestadt a rest. Ree, who made 39 saves, has played mainly up front this season.

“We put Nikki in for old times’ sake and while she played well we were just too tired.”

The Bandits legs gave out, especially in the third period when they were outscored 4-1.

“We had a different defensive lineup tonight from this afternoon . . . we were switching players around,” explained Lassu, who scored the Bandits goal late in the third period. “We had some things going when it was still close, but they didn’t go in for us and it got out of hand a bit at the end. The nice thing is the girls all enjoy each other’s company and we try to support each other and have fun.”

The Bandits opened the tournament with a 5-2 loss to provincial champion Edmonton ESP Velocity on Thursday.

“We didn’t play well. We were off for a month, which made it tough to come back and play at your best,” said Lassu, who played with the RDC Queens from 2002-05.

“I played a year with Barb Marsh and two with Rob (Weddell). I had an A (assistant) one year and a C (captain) one,” she said.

Lassu, who lives in Calgary, would like nothing better than to get former RDC players to join the Bandits.

“We’re getting older and the rest of the (Calgary) league is getting younger,” she said. “We’d like to get the former Queens to come out.”

One player they’re looking at is Laura Salomons, who just finished her fifth year with RDC.

“She’s on our radar,” said Lassu. “She could just come out and play games in Red Deer. We don’t practice and some girls play strictly in Red Deer and some in Calgary, which makes it easier with the travel.”

The Central Alberta Amazons is a junior A team that plays in Penhold and Lassu hopes to talk with their graduating players as well.

“We didn’t have a great year this year, but we were competitive the last two and we give the top teams a good battle. The thing is the U of C put a team in this year and they have 15 girls around 22 years of age and they’re all big and talented. They’re tough to play.”

The Bandits are in their 28th season and know a thing or two about winning the Western Shield.

“We won in 2010,’ said Lassu. “This brings back a lot of fond memories.”

Lori Krause, who has been with the Bandits for close to 20 years, scored a pair of goals against Meadow Ridge with Justine Jackson and Natalie Ree potting single markers. Amy Friestadt was in goal.

The Bandits finish round-robin play today at 2 p.m. against the undefeated Saskatchewan Wheat Kings, who defeated Meadow Ridge 9-0 Thursday and the Velocity 6-1 Friday. The Velocity also tied the Herd 2-2 on Friday.

On the senior A side, the Kamloops Vibe is 2-0 after defeating South Fraser TNT of Saskatchewan 4-0 Thursday and the Edmonton Renegades 3-0 Friday.

The Grande Prairie Panthers edged the Renegades 3-2 Thursday, tied the Assiniboine Community College Cougars of Manitoba 2-2 and lost 3-1 to the TNT Friday.

The Cougars also defeated the Renegades 9-1 and sit at 1-1-1.

The third and fourth place teams in each division meet in the bronze medal games Sunday with the top two clashing for gold. The AA bronze game is at 10 a.m. with the gold medal contest at 1 p.m. The other side has their playoffs games at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. respectively.

All AA games are in Kin City A with the A games in the B side.

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