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It’s like Austin Pratt grew homesick after leaving Red Deer on three occasions over the past year. “Every time I came here it seemed like I didn’t want to leave,” Pratt said Friday, after signing a standard Western Hockey League players contract with the Red Deer Rebels at the team office.
Rylan Toth came into his rookie campaign just hoping to get a chance to prove himself in the Red Deer Rebels net. Now, with the start of the WHL playoffs, he has a chance to establish himself as a star 13 months out of hosting the 2016 MasterCard Memorial Cup.
The Notre Dame Cougars were 66-49 losers to Okotoks Foothills in their final game of the Alberta 4A boys basketball provincials at Edmonton Jasper Place Saturday.
The Blackfalds Wranglers rolled to the Heritage Junior B Hockey League final without hardly breaking a sweat, but they have a worthy opponent now. Unfortunately for the Wranglers, with as easy a path as they’ve had, suddenly flipping the switch is a little easier said than done. The Coaldale Copperheads thrashed the Wranglers 4-0 in Game 1 of the best-of-five final at the Blackfalds Multiplex on Friday.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Tuesday’s midget AA hockey playoff game at the Arena was that it didn’t require extra time. The Red Deer Indy Graphics Chiefs edged the Red Deer Elks 3-2 before roughly 550 fans in the third and deciding game of the South Central League North Division final.
The Lindsay Thurber Raiders employed their two greatest weapons while racing to a 71-53 win over the visiting Hunting Hills Lightning in senior high girls basketball playoff action Tuesday. The Raiders played with speed and energy en route to grabbing a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three 4A zone final which continues Thursday at 6 p.m. at Hunting Hills.
Referees in the traditionally rough-and-tumble Western Hockey League have been sending offenders to the penalty box at a record low rate this season. As the 2014-15 campaign draws to a close, multiple teams could break the WHL’s record for fewest penalty minutes in a season set by the 2013-14 Everett Silvertips with 816 in 72 games. Everett, with 646 minutes in 64 games, will almost certainly break that mark, as will the Kootenay Ice, who have been whistled for just 631 minutes in the same span.
Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano isn’t giving up hope his team can make the NHL playoffs without him. With the bill of his red ball cap pulled down over his eyes, Giordano spoke with local media Tuesday about the season-ending surgery he’ll undergo Wednesday to repair a torn left biceps tendon.
Kevin Hayes replaced injured top scorer Rick Nash in position only when the New York Rangers took on the Calgary Flames. Then he played the role quite well and netted the lone goal in his surging club’s latest win. Hayes broke a scoreless deadlock 3:00 into the third period, Cam Talbot made 21 saves, and the Rangers hung on to beat the Calgary Flames 1-0 on Tuesday night.
The Bentley Generals will begin their march to the 2015 Allan Cup in unfamiliar surroundings. Due to poor ice conditions, the Generals have relocated to the Eckville Arena for the Chinook Hockey League playoffs, which begin there tonight at 8:30 p.m. with a best-of-seven semifinal against the Fort Saskatchewan Chiefs. “Last year we struggled (with ice) but this year’s been really bad and it got to the point where we had a near-miss in practice,” said Bentley general manager Jeff McInnis.
Brandin Cote entered this Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League season with the impossible task of filling Doug Quinn’s shoes. This weekend their season came to an end in an unfamiliar early fashion. The Chiefs (11-18-5) finished seventh in the South Division, three points out of a playoff spot thanks to a 3-2 loss to the Strathmore Bisons (17-12-5) on Friday and a 3-0 loss to the St. Albert Raiders (18-9-7) on Sunday.
Jayna Kitchen has more than just good luck on her side of late. The fourth year Red Deer College Queens forward wears a set of crown shaped earrings for every game as a lucky charm, but she has been making her own breaks the last few weeks. She scored twice on Thursday in leading the Queens (11-6-4) to a 4-2 win over the SAIT Trojans (9-10-2) at the Red Deer Arena that all but locks up second place in Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference women’s hockey.
Driven athletes are mostly successful athletes. Many of the junior target shooters with the Red Deer Fish and Game Club are highly motivated, and not surprisingly, have won an impressive number of municipal, provincial, national and international titles.
The Lindsay Thurber Raiders employ an attack that is similar to their roster in terms of savvy and inexperience. In one word, balanced. “When we want to run we can run, and when we want to slow it down and go into half court our players are pretty disciplined,” said head coach Carl Light, whose team finished third in the boys division of the Lindsay Thurber senior high basketball tournament Friday and Saturday.
Dustin Cook put Canada back on the podium at the world alpine ski championship with a silver medal in Thursday’s super-G. The 25-year-old from Ottawa put down a fast run with a late start number to finish second behind Austrian Hannes Reichelt. Adrien Theaux of France was third.
The Red Deer Rebels earned a point against the Western Hockey League’s top team Tuesday night at the Enmax Centrium, but GM/head coach Brent Sutter felt his team could have had two with a 60- to 65-minute effort. “We found a way to get a point, but I don’t think we’re overly pleased with the way we played, though,” said Sutter, following a 4-3 shootout loss to the Kelowna Rockets in front of a recorded gathering of 5,180.
Forty-eight hours after playing in his first all-star game, Johnny Gaudreau was back in Calgary and making the type of impact that earned the Flames rookie an invite to the NHL’s gala weekend. Gaudreau scored his 14th and 15th goals of the season on Tuesday as the Flames rallied in the third period to beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-1.
A trip to Edmonton usually seems to be able to break the Minnesota Wild out of a funk. Charlie Coyle’s goal late in the third period stood up as the winner as the Wild snapped a two-game losing skid with a 2-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday, their ninth win in their last 10 visits to Edmonton.
The Red Deer Rebels have come to lean on their captain in the big moments ever since Conner Bleackley arrived in town three years ago. He has been clutch the past month, and on Tuesday night he again nearly pulled a game out from the flames, but a late collapse saddled the Rebels (20-13-3-2) with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Swift Current Broncos (19-15-0-4) in front of 5,234 fans at the Centrium.
Sam Reinhart scored two goals and his linemate Anthony Duclair had another as Canada stayed perfect at the world junior championship with a 4-1 victory over Finland on Monday night. Curtis Lazar also scored and Max Domi had a pair of assists for Canada (3-0-0), which ends group stage play with a showdown against the United States (2-0-1) for first place on Wednesday.