LLOYDMINSTER — The Red Deer Optimist Chiefs are putting together a dynasty.
The Chiefs downed the Lloydminster Bobcats 4-0 Thursday to win the best-of-five Alberta Midget Hockey League final 3-1 and capture their fifth straight provincial AAA title.
“It’s been a good run,” said Chiefs head coach Doug Quinn, who is also in his fifth year with the team. “Every year we have a different group, a different team. We don’t always take the best talent, but the best team.
“It’s a process where at the beginning of the year we roll all four lines and six defencemen and don’t worry about the power play or penalty killing, we give everyone an opportunity. I think that’s why they come together as a team and peak at the right time.”
Quinn usually has a few veterans each season, guys who are team leaders.
“They set the tone and attitude of the team and they all grow together,” Quinn added.
The Chiefs has their hands full with the Bobcats on Tuesday at the Arena, needing overtime to pull out a 4-3 win. But a couple adjustments and the Chiefs seemed to be in control.
“The adjustments helped a bit,” said Quinn, who brought his wingers back down a bit in the defensive zone to help with the breakout and also did a better job of moving the puck.
‘We were also getting our shots through (on goal) better,” he said. “We played well the first two periods and in the third we got a little excited and ran around a bit, but in the end it was a complete team effort.”
Qui9nn’s team only lost once on the road during the playoffs.
“We don’t change much and have confidence,” he said. “I also thought they started to wear down as the series progressed. We put a lot of pressure on the puck and play solid defence and year after year it’s the same, individuals wear down.”
Ross Heidt gave the Chiefs a 1-0 lead in the first period with Tyler Steenbergen and Quentin Greenwood connecting in the second. Brad Makofka scored into an empty net to put the finishing touches on the victory.
Jayden Sittler was credited with 23 saves for the shutout. The Chiefs were also credited with 23 shots, although Quinn felt they had several more.
“Jayden played great, in fact he’s played well in the playoffs,” Quinn said. “He gave us constant goaltending and although we don’t give up a lot of shots, at times they’re quality shots and he was there. He was though this as a backup last year and knew what to expect.”
The two-time defending national champion Chiefs will host the Okanagan Rockets in the best-of-three Pacific Cup final, April 4-6 at the Arena. The first two games will be in the evening with the third, if necessary, Sunday afternoon.
The winner advances to the Telus Cup in Moose Jaw.