Character shines through in Midget girls series win
Early in the season, when they were struggling to find themselves as a team, Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs head coach Curtis Scutchings talked about the character on the team.
That character was never more evident than Sunday afternoon when the Chiefs downed the Calgary Bruins 3-0 at Kin City Arenas to win the best-of-three Alberta Major Midget Female Hockey League South Division quarter-final series 2-1.
The Bruins forced the third game with a 2-1 win in Calgary Saturday.
“I talked about the character of this team, the first time we talked this season, and that showed today,” said Scutchings, who had a young team with little or no major league experience on the blueline and in goal to start the season.
“Our goal was to be playing our best hockey at the end of the year and that’s what we’re doing, and we won a playoff round,” said Scutchings. “That was very sweet and I’m proud of the way they played, especially in the third period. It was do or die and they came through. They deserved it after all the hard work they’ve put in.”
The teams battled through a scoreless opening 40 minutes with Kristi Wilson opening the scoring at 3:38 when she darted across the high slot and beat Bruins netminder Rachel Hamilton with a quick screened shot.
Scutchings was a bit worried his team may sit back a bit after the opening goal, but instead they picked up the pace.
Impressive 15-year-old forward Becky Davidson gave Red Deer a 2-0 lead at 4:16 when she stole the puck at the Calgary blueline and beat Hamilton on a breakaway.
Reanna Arnold completed the scoring at 17:58 as she cut across front of Hamilton. From then on it was a matter of preserving Nisa Barlett’s shutout. Bartlett didn’t have a lot of pressure and finished with 20 saves.
Bartlett played all three games in the series, although Scutchings could well have went with Aly Anderson.
“Both of the girls played well in their last five games, so it was a coin flip on who we were going with,” said Scutchings.
“We decided on Nisa, because she real steady in her final games. Then again so was our other netminder.”
The Chiefs will face the Southeast Tigers in the best-of-five south semifinals.
“We played them four times, lost by one goal and tied them once. The other two were close, but they’re a good skating team, in fact a great all-round team, so it will be tough,” said Scutchings, who has likely lost defenceman Katie Griffiths for the season with a concussion.
The Chiefs brought up Mairead Bast from the major bantams for the game.
“It was the second time we’ve brought her up and she did a very good job,” said Scutchings.
l The Chiefs finished with 29 shots on Sunday and 19 on Saturday . . . Arnold scored the Chiefs goal Saturday while Bartlett finished with 12 saves.