Photo by JOSH ALDRICH/Advocate staff -- for josh's story -- Red Deer Optimist Chiefs forward Parker Smyth gets the corner on Medicine Hat Tigers Morgan Grona during Alberta Midget Hockey League actionat the Red Deer Arena on Saturday.

Chiefs split games on opening weekend for regular season

Twenty minutes is all that separated Brandin Cote from a perfect regular season debut as head coach of the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs. It’s just those 20 minutes were pretty bad and sent the club to a 4-1 loss in their home opener on Saturday to the Medicine Hat Tigers at the Arena. However, they rebounded to beat the UFA Bisons 4-2 in Strathmore on Sunday.

Twenty minutes is all that separated Brandin Cote from a perfect regular season debut as head coach of the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs.

It’s just those 20 minutes were pretty bad and sent the club to a 4-1 loss in their home opener on Saturday to the Medicine Hat Tigers at the Arena. However, they rebounded to beat the UFA Bisons 4-2 in Strathmore on Sunday.

“(Saturday) I thought after we woke up we deserved a better fate,” he said. “I think we outplayed Medicine Hat quite handily in the second and third period but it was a little too late after we got behind the eight ball.

“We just wanted the guys to respond well today and play a solid game … a team game, and we were really happy with the response today.”

In Saturday’s loss, Cayden Terlson, Josef Holubowich, Quinten Karg and Slater Dykema all scored for the Tigers while Xavier Burghardt made 46 saves, including 37 in the final two periods, for the win.

Ryley Smith got the Chiefs lone goal while Cole Sears made 23 saves.

On Sunday, the Chiefs flipped the script, as Ryan Vandervlis had a goal and two assists to lead the Red Deer attack. Brad Makofka, Luke Coleman and Chase Olsen also scored for the Chiefs while Branden Bilodeau made 35 saves for the win.

Jordan McConnell scored both of the Bisons goals and Cody Campbell stopped 23 shots in the loss.

The depth in scoring was important on opening week as they were down Reagan Doig, whop was suspended for one game due to a hit-from-behind on Saturday, and Tyrees Goodrunning who is already banged up.

Goodrunning was one of their top forwards through their preseason.

“We were down to nine forwards and guys just battled hard,” said Cote.

“We just wanted to have a solid road game and play together and compete and we got that out of most of the guys today.”

The Chiefs at the Red Deer Arena for both of their games this coming weekend, hosting the Fort Saskatchewan Rangers on Saturday at 4:45 p.m. and Edmonton’s South Side Athletic Club Athletics on Sunday at 3 p.m.

“We just want the kids to get better every day when they come to practice,” said Cote. “We’ve told them its going to be a process throughout the year, there’s going to be some ups and downs … and we’re going to have to battle through some adversity and we did that this weekend and we came out unscathed.

“We really want to establish our home rink as somewhere it’s going to be tough to come in and get points.”

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