CALGARY — Red Deer Optimist Chiefs head coach Doug Quinn couldn’t have been happier with the effort he got from his team Wednesday.
The Chiefs ended up playing the third period with three of their regular forwards missing, but pulled out a 3-1 victory over the Calgary Buffaloes to grab a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five Alberta Midget Hockey League South Division final.
“We were down to three forward lines in the third period, but we may have played some of our best hockey of the game,” said Quinn. “The guys rallied around each other and gutted it out.”
The Chiefs went into the game with Alan Pruss out with a wrist injury then lost Jeff de Wit with a minor injury and Ross Heidt with a hitting from behind penalty.
“Ross will be back next game and I expect de Wit will be as well,” said Quinn.
Jayden Sittler finished with 23 saves while his mates had 35 shots.
“Jayden was really good, he made a number of big saves at key times,” added Quinn.
Trey deGraaf gave the Chiefs a 1-0 lead with Layne Bensmiller connecting while shorthanded to make it 2-0.
“That was a huge goal,” said Quinn. “They were putting pressure on us and Layne broke away and snapped in a shot from the wing.”
The Buffaloes narrowed the gap to 2-1 before the end of the second period, but deGraaf scored into an empty net to seal the victory.
The win was the Chiefs third road win in three games in the playoffs.
“We can play in any kind of situation,” said Quinn. “We play good defence and have a tough minded team.”
The Chiefs look to wrap up the series Friday at 8 p.m. at the Arena.
The winner faces the winner between the Lloydminster Bobcats and St. Albert Raiders.
The ‘Cats downed the Raiders 4-1 Wednesday on the road to tie the series at 1-1.