Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Tuesday’s midget AA hockey playoff game at the Arena was that it didn’t require extra time.
The Red Deer Indy Graphics Chiefs edged the Red Deer Elks 3-2 before roughly 550 fans in the third and deciding game of the South Central League North Division final.
The Chiefs took Game 1 of the series Friday with a goal in the fifth overtime period and the Elks prevailed Sunday when defenceman Austin Thorne connected in the second extra frame.
“It was definitely a lot of fun,” said Indy captain Kirt Fortney. “The first game had five overtime periods and the second was decided in double overtime. We managed to pull out the victory tonight without going to overtime. But those guys (Elks) played a great, hard-fought series too.”
Tanner Zentner potted the winner Tuesday, cashing a perfect behind-the-net feed from Logan Linnell at 19:33 of the second period. The Chiefs also got first-period goals from Mack Differenz and Declan Johnston.
Kobe Scott and Keenan Scott scored first- and second-period goals for the Elks.
Justin Anderson turned aside 22 shots as the winning netminder. Carter Gendreau made 27 saves for the Elks, including a glove stab on Lane Sim on a second-period penalty shot.
The two clubs dominated their division this season, with the Elks finishing first with 62 points, one more than the Chiefs.
“The whole year we were neck and neck. This was probably our eighth time playing them and most of the games were very close,” said Fortney. “This was a great series and it was great to come out on top.”
Indy Graphics head coach Al Sim praised both teams.
“That’s the best part for me this year — how close these teams were (in calibre),” he said. “The whole thing with hockey in Red Deer is that our midget triple A team is such a hard team to make.
“There are so many players on these two teams who could probably play triple A in other centres, and that’s a testament to where these kids are at. To go seven extra periods in the first two games and then a one-goal game here tonight . . . it was a war, these kids are beat up. It was a great series.”
The Chiefs and Elks may meet again next week in the midget AA provincial championship tournament in Red Deer. The event is slated for March 19-22 with games to be played at the Arena, Kinex and Collicutt Centre.
The Elks will go in as zone champions, while the Chiefs are the host team. The squads will play in two separate four-team pools.
“Hopefully we’ll meet each other in the final,” said Sim, whose club will take on the Wheatland Chiefs in the best-of-five South Central final, which will likely start Friday at Strathmore.
“We’ll probably get in two (league championship) games before the provincials,” he said.