special to the advocate
Red Deer Optimist Rebel Chiefs forward Jody Sick knew Thursday afternoon’s game was an important one for his team.
After giving up a two-goal lead late in Wednesday’s game against the Saskatoon Contacts and having to settle for a tie, the Chiefs were faced with a must win scenario at the 2013 Telus Cup as they battled the Valley Wildcats from Nova Scotia.
On the shoulders of a pair of first period goals by Sick, the Chiefs cruised to an 8-1 victory to earn their second win of the tournament.
“We needed to get off to a good start,” Sick said. “We were kind of heading into this game knowing it was do or die and we needed to win.”
The Chiefs wasted no time getting on the scoreboard early, as Sick scored just over five minutes into the game to give Red Deer the early lead.
Valley responded with six minutes remaining in the first period on a power play goal by John Deacon after finding a rebound in front of the net and putting it past Matt Zentner.
With just 3.3 seconds remaining in the first period, Sick scored his second of the period on a Red Deer power play to provide his team with at 2-1 lead heading into the second period.
The second period began with a quick goal by Jacob Schofield to increase the lead to 3-1 one minute in.
Dustin Gorgi added to the Chiefs’ lead late in the second period with a quick shot that beat goaltender Justin Ritcey short side.
One minute later, Colton Bobyk’s point shot found the twine, followed by another goal from the left point on a shot by Caleb Denham that made its way through traffic to increase the lead to 6-1 heading into the third period.
Jordie Lawson added another goal with eight minutes remaining in the third period on a deflection in front of the net, and Rory Davidson wired a wrist shot top corner to put the Chiefs up 8-1.
Sick finished the game with two goals and added an assist. He was named Red Deer’s player of the game.
When asked about his goals in the first period, Sick attributed his ability to crash the net, but also commended the plays made by his teammates.
“They were a few good plays by my teammates, and I was just kind of going to the net hard,” he said. “It was almost like a ‘Johnny on the spot’ type situation, but it felt pretty good to bang them in.”
Sick said his team was forced to regroup after Wednesday’s tie against Saskatoon. He remained optimistic about his team’s chances moving forward in the tournament.
“We refocused last night for sure, and I think we had a different mind set coming into today’s game,” he said. “We just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing all year and stay mentally sharp. I think we’ll be alright.”
After being disappointed with his team’s effort a day earlier, Chiefs head coach Doug Quinn was pleased with his team’s work ethic and the ability to capitalize on opportunities.
“I thought we worked harder, but I thought we were really up-tight,” Quinn said. “We played with a little bit of fear, but it was a big goal at the end of the first period that kind of helped settle us a little bit. Once we capitalized on a few of our opportunities and got ahead, I thought we really relaxed and finally started playing a little bit less fear and tension than we were earlier.”
Valley head coach Nick Greenough emphasized the importance of playing a full 60 minutes, especially on a stage like the Telus Cup.
“For a few minutes, we got away from the fundamentals that we went over all year,” Greenough said. “It got us to this point, and at this level you’ve got to play 60 minutes. The teams are too good and right there (Red Deer) has got a bunch of guys over there that have won the Telus Cup last year. They’ve been here and they know what it takes to win, and they want to repeat.”
Next game action for the Chiefs is Friday morning when they take on the Ottawa Jr. 67’s. Puck drop is 7:30 a.m.