Late goal by Bast saves tie for Midget Chiefs
When Gabe Bast returned to the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs this season it gave the two-time defending national midget AAA champions a significant boost on defence.
Bast, the only true veteran back on the blueline, showed some of his worth Saturday in scoring late in the third period on the power play to give the Chiefs a 5-5 tie with the Medicine Hat South East Alberta Tigers in Alberta Midget Hockey League action at the Arena.
There was a chance Bast would remain with the Western Hockey League’s Medicine Hat Tigers this season.
“It was kind of a mutual decision for me to come back,” he said.
“I could possibly be the seventh defenceman, so I decided to come back here and look at getting a scholarship.”
Bast talked with the Camrose Kodiaks about playing there next season, although he did say he hasn’t shut the door on returning to the Tigers.
“I don’t want to wreck anything with them, but I’ll see what junior A will give me,” he said.
Bast won’t turn 17 until Dec. 20 and is only in Grade 11. One of the reasons he wasn’t thinking of playing with the Tigers this season.
“I do have a late birth date and I want to finish Grade 11 for sure,” he added.
As one of the few veterans on the Chiefs, Bast will be looked at to carry a good portion of the leadership load. He can also feel a bit of pressure having to follow the last two championship years.
“There is some pressure, but we have to look at it as a new team and we’re starting over, although returning to the nationals is definitely in mind.”
For Bast his time with the Chiefs and head coach Doug Quinn has been instrumental in his growth.
“It’s helped tremendously in the maturity of my game,” he said.
Bast was also on the league and provincial minor midget AAA champion IROC Chiefs in 2012.
“I’ve been fortunate the last few years and I’ve also had some great coaches along the way who really helped me.”
Bast is one of the more offensive talented defencemen in the AMHL, but that’s just part of his game.
“I like to be good in the D zone and then move up with the play,” he said.
Bast tied the game at 18:47 of the third period on a screened shot from the left point. The goal came 47 seconds after Jeff de Wit scored to make it 5-4.
The teams were tied 1-1 and 3-3 by periods with Ross Heidt scoring twice and Chase Olsen once for the Chiefs, who held a 38-18 edge in shots on goal.
Despite the edge in shots Quinn was anything but pleased with his team’s effort.
“I was really disappointed how they played,” he said.
“I thought we were sloppy, there were a lot of turnovers and the commitment level wasn’t there. We weren’t prepared to take a hit to make a play . . . we were soft.”
On the other hand the Tigers did everything they could to steal the two points.
“They came in and took it to us,” said Quinn. “They blocked shots and worked hard and played with desperation. They came back to tie the score in the second period and then we fell apart.”
The Tiger scored twice early in the third period against rookie netminder Brody Dirk, who was just back from the injury list. The Chiefs had a glorious opportunity to come back earlier than they did as they had a four-minute power play in the final frame, but managed just one shot on goal, and that at the end of the double minor.
“There was no work ethic,” said Quinn.
“I know it’s still early in the season and we have a lot of things to work on, and we don’t have our systems down yet, but we should have that work ethic.”
While Quinn was pleased to get the one point, he wouldn’t have been any more upset with a loss.
“You may learn more with a loss,” he said. “I thought this game brought out a lot of faults and holes in our game.”
With Dirk returning it leaves the team with three goaltenders. Veteran Jayden Sittler will stay around, leaving the backup slot between Dirk and Cole Sears.
“It was difficult for Dirk as he’s been sitting out, but we wanted to give him an opportunity to showcase what he can do. We didn’t give him a lot of help, but at the end of the day you still have to perform.”
Quinn indicated he’ll be making a decision on his netminding in the near future.
“It’s been a distraction, so we’ll make the decision quickly.”
The Chiefs next action is Tuesday when they host the Canadian Olympic women’s team at 7:30 p.m. at the Arena.