The leadership group for the Red Deer Rebels bantam AAA squad came through in spades on Friday at the Collicutt Centre.
In a do-or-die game contest, captain Ronan Seeley and alternate captains Brett Meerman and Noah Danielson paved the way for a 6-2 win and a 2-1 first round playoff series victory over the Rocky Mountain Raiders in Alberta Bantam AAA action.
“That was a dominant performance,” Red Deer head coach Justin Jarmolicz said. “They came to play, they had a chip on their shoulder and they gave it a full 60.”
The Rebels opened the best-of-three series with a 3-2 win at home on Tuesday, then followed that with a 5-3 loss on the road Thursday.
“We played okay down there, we just didn’t get the breaks. We were determined to get our own breaks today,” Jarmolicz said.
Meerman connected with longtime linemate Danielson at 13:31 of the first on a beautifully executed two-on-one.
He then found the back of the net two minutes later when he jumped on a loose puck in the slot to make it 2-0.
“We played a couple years of spring hockey together. A couple years previous and it just carried over, we’ve just always had that chemistry, ” Meerman said about the connection between him and Danielson.
Meerman again made the perfect pass through a sea of bodies when he found Seeley and the defenceman made no mistake to open up a 3-1 lead.
On a breakaway late in the second, Meerman put a laser of a wrist shot past Raiders goalie Jackson Berry to make it 4-1.
Seeley added his second goal of the night on power play point shot with 3:28 left in the game.
Danielson also added two assists for a three-point night. Meerman and Seeley were named first and second stars respectively. The trio combined for nine points in the game.
Although offensively dominant, Meerman credited the team’s physical play as the difference Friday.
“We battled hard and we just kept taking the body and I think that helped us force them to make mistakes and we just capitalized on our chances,” he said.
Jarmolicz said in the next series against Lethbridge, his team simply needs to harness the dominance from Friday and carry it forward.
“We just have to build off of this we know what we’re capable of and we’ve been with Lethbridge every step of the way. We’re excited for that challenge going forward,” he said.