It was one that got away from the Red Deer Northstar Chiefs.
The Chiefs let a 4-1 lead slip out of their hands and settled for a 4-4 tie with the Edmonton CAC Canadians in their opening game of the provincial minor midget AAA hockey championship at the Arena Wednesday.
“It was penalties, exactly that,” said Chiefs head coach Justin Jarmolicz. “Undisciplined, selfish penalties cost us and in this tournament you can’t afford to give up those opportunities.”
The Canadians got back in the game with a power play marker by Sam Bohner at 18:55 of the second period, making the score 4-2 heading into the break. Parker Foo narrowed the gap to 4-3 at 7:26 of the third period and Ben Gerbrandt scored a controversial tying goal at 18:27, also on the power play.
The tying marker sounded, and looked as if it hit a high stick on the way in, but after a conversation between the referee and a linesman the goal stood.
“It’s something that can go either way, it was close,” said Jarmolicz. “But we put ourselves in that position.”
Matthew Froehlick, while shorthanded, and Brady Park sandwiched goals around one by Edmonton’s Gerbrandt in the first period before Braden Olsen and Kyle Cornford scored on the power play in the middle stanza.
The Chiefs are playing without three regulars with captain Luke Coleman, forward Shane Frisneth and defenceman Jordan Weddell all sidelined with injuries.
“Luke is our captain and one of our top scorers while Frisneth is tough along the boards and Weddell is our most improved player,” said Jarmolicz, who added defencemen Quinn Justinen and Dayton Playford and forward Tyrees Goodrunning from the Red Deer Rebels Black bantam AAA team.
“They’ve been practicing with us since they were knocked out of their playoffs,” said Jarmolicz. “They fit in well today. The two on defence “did what we asked of them, battled hard and kept things simple.”
Outside of the penalties Jarmolicz was pleased with his team’s effort.
“The boys worked hard and rallied around each other and in that aspect it was good.”
Goaltender Lane Congdon finished with 29 saves, including several tough ones.
“Lane was great, he made the saves he was supposed to,” said Jarmolicz. “He had a couple of tough deflections and bounces go against him and they were in the game.”
In other action the Lloydminster Rage edged the Calgary Rangers 2-1 and the Edmonton SSAC Bulldogs tied the Southeast Tigers 3-3.
“We’re all playing our best hockey of the year right now,” said Jarmolicz.
“This league is so even, that’s the way it’s designed and that’s where discipline comes in.”
“We have to play for the front of our jersey not the back,” Jarmolicz added.
The Chiefs finished with 38 shots on Edmonton’s Pierce Diamond.
The Chiefs play twice today and Friday. They clash with the Tigers at noon at the Kinex and the Bulldogs at 7 p.m. at the Arena today. On Friday they meet the Rage at 10 a.m. at the Kinex and face the Rangers at 5 p.m. at the Arena.
The top four teams advance to the semifinals at 11:15 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday with the bronze medal game Sunday at 11:45 a.m. and the final at 2:30 p.m.