The Red Deer Optimist Rebels had the best defence and goaltending in the Alberta Midget Hockey League during the regular season.
They showed why in a 2-0 win over the Calgary Flames Sunday afternoon, giving them a 3-1 win in their best-of-five AMHL South Division final.
Goaltender Dasan Sydora recorded his second shutout of the series and fourth of the post-season, making 24 saves.
“Dasan had a great game,” said Rebels head coach Doug Quinn. “We were on our heals in the first period and he held us in there and kept it 0-0 until we got our feet under us.”
The Rebels took control of the game in the second period with Jonathon Finnigan deflecting BJ Duffin’s shot in at the mid point of the period and Scott Feser connecting on a two-on-one minutes later.
“Overall our team defence was strong and with Dasan playing great we were able to shut them down,” added Quinn, who felt it was a typical playoff game.
“It was a greasy game . . . a hard-fought playoff game in which they came to play. They definitely wanted a fifth game.”
The Rebels definitely didn’t.
“We certainly didn’t,” said Quinn. “You get into a fifth game and you never know what can happen. You can run into a hot goalie, take a penalty at the wrong time, or even a lucky goal. Now we have close to a week to prepare for the next series.”
The Rebels face St. Albert, who beat Leduc 1-0 Sunday to take the North Division 3-1. The Alberta winner will host the B.C. champion in the Pacific championship with the winner advancing to the Telus Cup in Leduc.
Quinn knows they’ll be in for another tough series against St. Albert.
“They had the second best defensive record in the league behind us. They’re well-coached and it will be a tough series for us to move on.”
But the Rebels will be ready, he said.
“The kids have a business-like approach . . . they didn’t get too high with the victory, they have a goal to get back to the Telus Cup.”
The final is expected to start Friday at 8 p.m. at the Arena.