Chiefs hold on for win in marathon playoff opener

It wasn’t the style of play the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs are used to but they’ll take a victory any way they can get it. The Chiefs, who are used to playing a low scoring, close checking game, overcame an early 3-0 deficit and needed double overtime to pull out a 6-5 victory over the Calgary Buffaloes in the opening game of their best-of-three Alberta Midget Hockey League quarter-final series at the Arena Tuesday.

It wasn’t the style of play the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs are used to but they’ll take a victory any way they can get it.

The Chiefs, who are used to playing a low scoring, close checking game, overcame an early 3-0 deficit and needed double overtime to pull out a 6-5 victory over the Calgary Buffaloes in the opening game of their best-of-three Alberta Midget Hockey League quarter-final series at the Arena Tuesday.

Tanner Zentner played the role of hero, scoring his second goal of the game on the power play at 1:28 of the second extra period.

“They’re a high-flying team and are involved in a lot of high scoring games, while we’re the opposite,” said Chiefs head coach Brandin Cote. “We like playing a tighter game, but it happens.”

The Buffaloes stormed out of the gate, scoring three times in the first 12:52 — twice by Alex Loewen and once by Joshua Patrician. Zentner got the Chiefs on the board at 16:15 of the first period on the first of four power play goals.

Regan Doig made the game interesting connecting at 8:36 of the second period.

The Chiefs then took advantage of some shaky goaltending to grab a 5-3 lead in the third period. Landon Siegle scored at 3:10 and 6:55 and Tyrees Goodrunning made it 5-3 when goaltender Quinn Yeager came out to clear the puck and put it on Goodrunning’s stick.

The Chiefs, who found themselves bottled up in their end for long periods during the game, looked as if they would hold on for the victory until picking up a pair of late penalties.

Owen Guenter scored at 14:31 and Ayden Roche-Setoguchi connected at 18:57 on a screened shot from the point.

After a scoreless 10-minute overtime the ice was cleaned and it wasn’t hardly dry when Zentner broke in on a two-on-one and put a high shot off backup goaltender Matthieu Fawcett who had the puck drop behind him where Zentner pushed it in for the victory.

“I liked the way we battled back,” said Cote. “We could have mailed it in after getting down so early and been satisfied to get back in it Saturday (in Calgary). But the kids knew the urgency as this is a best-of-three and there’s not a lot of room for error.

“They stuck to the game plan and a did a real good job continuing to battle. It would have been nice to win in regulation, but even then the guys kept believing and kept pushing and got lucky to get one in the end.”

Justin Travis was in goal for the Chiefs who are without goaltender Dawson Weatherill who is with the Red Deer Rebels on a west coast road swing. Weatherill is backing up Trevor Martin and replacing Rylan Toth, who was injured last game.

Travis finished with 46 saves while his mates had 25 shots.

The third game, if necessary, goes Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Arena.

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