Photo by JOSH ALDRICH/Advocate staff -- for Josh's story -- Red Deer Optomist Chiefs defenceman Andrew Kartusch hits Lethbridge Hurricanes forward Michael Grant during Alberta Midget Hockey League action at the Red Deer Arena on Sunday. Red Deer won 3-2.

Optimist Chiefs win final pair of exhibition games

The Red Deer Optimist Chiefs are heading into the Alberta Midget Hockey League season in fine form, winning their final two exhibition games this weekend at the Red Deer Arena. On Saturday they crushed the Fort Saskatchewan Rangers 10-2 and then scored late to beat the Lethbridge Hurricanes 3-2 on Sunday.

The Red Deer Optimist Chiefs are heading into the Alberta Midget Hockey League season in fine form, winning their final two exhibition games this weekend at the Red Deer Arena.

On Saturday they crushed the Fort Saskatchewan Rangers 10-2 and then scored late to beat the Lethbridge Hurricanes 3-2 on Sunday.

In their win over Fort Saskatchewan, Riley Smith had two goals and two assists while Luke Coleman also scored twice.

Tyrees Goodrunning, Parker Smyth, Chase Olsen, Tyler Graber, Drew Joslin and Zane Bennett all scored for Red Deer and Cole Sears made 33 saves for the win.

Fort Saskatchewan responded with goals from Dylan Dorval and Brett Dubuc. Kenton Aubin made only six saves on 12 shots before getting replaced at 14:26 of the first period and Branden Yuel stopped 20 of 24 shots the rest of the way.

On Sunday, Goodrunning scored twice and Smyth got the other to pace the Chiefs attack, Branden Bilodeau made 25 saves for the win.

Arik Weersink made 23 saves for Lethbridge while Tanner Miller and Tanner Thompson tallied.

Chiefs head coach Brandin Cote was pleased with the way they finished the preseason.

“We’re pretty happy with how we’re progressing, it’s a big difference from last weekend when we still had some people we were looking at; with the exception of possibly a few kids that we’re waiting on at junior camps, this will be our team,” he said.

“I thought we looked a lot more like a team this week than last we did last, overall we’re pretty happy with the effort so far.”

Until this weekend, the Chiefs were at 2-2-1 and playing inconsistent hockey as they figured out their roster for the regular season.

Cote was finally able to get a true feel for how the team will look when the puck drops on the regulars on Saturday at 4:45 p.m., against the Medicine Hat Tigers at the Red Deer Arena.

Playing particularly well for the Chiefs is Goodrunning, one of their youngest players, scoring three times in the two games this weekend, including Sunday’s winning goal on the power play at 17:44 of the third period.

“He’s our only 15-year-old forward and he’s been our best player these last two games,” said Cote.

“(Landon) MacKenzie and (Andrew) Kartusch on defence have been real good and our goaltenders have been pretty solid, they’ve made some pretty good saves.”

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