Photo by JOSH ALDRICH/Advocate staff -- for Josh's story -- Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs forward Maddison Toppe emerges from a crowd with the puck as Spruce Grove Saints Erika Iglesias

Sutter Fund Chiefs break losing streak

The Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs broke out of their New Year doldrums in a big way on Sunday. The Chiefs hammered the Spruce Grove Saints 6-2 in Alberta Major Midget Female Hockey League action at the Collicutt Centre, snapping a three-game losing skid in which they were shut out twice. “We just have to keep doing what we’re doing with repetition and hard work,” said Chiefs head coach Tom Bast.

Chiefs 6 Saints 2

The Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs broke out of their New Year doldrums in a big way on Sunday.

The Chiefs hammered the Spruce Grove Saints 6-2 in Alberta Major Midget Female Hockey League action at the Collicutt Centre, snapping a three-game losing skid in which they were shut out twice.

“We just have to keep doing what we’re doing with repetition and hard work,” said Chiefs head coach Tom Bast.

“This is the junior A of women’s hockey. It’s very competitive and every win means everything to everybody; just to create wins and create confidence and to keep being successful. Success breeds confidence.”

Breanna Martin led the charge for the Chiefs (18-7-0-5) with two goals and an assist while Kirsten Baumgardt, Erika Marshall, Maddison Toppe and Abagael Thiessen also scored. Bailey Knapp made 18 saves for the win.

Jayme Abel and Tyra Meropoulis replied for Spruce Grove (11-14-1-2) while Courtney Beierbach made 28 saves in the loss.

Goals have been hard to come by for the Chiefs since the calendar turned over to 2015. They were given the Christmas break off in order to save themselves for what is going to be a long post-season as hosts of the Esso Cup. But they had just five goals in the first four games since returning to league play, dropping them back into the middle of the pack in the league in goals for. Their top two scorers — Thiessen and Martin —were tied for 20th in the league with 19 points each heading into Sunday.

It hasn’t just been their five-on-five offence that has struggled, their power play has also been an issue this season. On Sunday, however, they managed to score twice with the man advantage by loading up one unit with their top players, giving Bast hope they are starting to figure it out.

“It’s funny, we just can’t score,” said Bast. “We’ve been playing reasonably well … but we’ve just got to find a way to start scoring. If we start scoring, then our momentum, our confidence, all that stuff falls into place and away we go.”

The Chiefs back end continues to be the back bone of the team, allowing 57 goals on the season, second best in the league to the front-running Calgary Fire. Their goaltending duo of Knapp and Sarah Murray have kept the Chiefs in every game while their defensive unit has been solid.

If there is an issue defensively, it has been a penchant for turning the puck over inside their own blue line that has burned them throughout the season.

“We’ve got to work on getting pucks off the half wall,” said Bast. “It’s been a real nemesis of us all year … it’s somewhat frustrating but we are trying to get it done.”

The Chiefs continue to prep for the Esso Cup, the female major midget national championship, which they will host from April 19-25 at the Red Deer Arena. To do so, they played in some of the top tournaments in the country, including in Wilcox, Sask., in December, in Winnipeg earlier this month and are now set for Burnaby, B.C., in February. At these tournaments they have and will see some of the top teams in North America.

“One of my goals is to expose our girls to these tournaments, we see different teams,” said Bast. “Anytime you can expose your players to competition, I think it breeds success and it breeds confidence and it helps the girls understand what level of hockey can really, truly be played at this level.”

Up next for the Chiefs is a pair of home games at the Collicutt Centre, against the Medicine Hat Tigers (4-21-2-0) on Friday at 8:15 p.m. and on Sunday at 12:45 p.m. against the Grande Prairie Storm (12-11-2-2).

Just Posted

New RDC president has three decades of experience working at colleges and universities

Peter Nunoda says he’s ‘excited’ to help transition the college into a university

Wildfires put more people on the run in northern Alberta High Level on alert

HIGH LEVEL, Alta. — Wildfires have forced more people from their homes… Continue reading

Manitoba teen killed when dirt bike and train collide east of Winnipeg

OAKBANK, Man. — A 15-year-old boy was killed on the weekend when… Continue reading

Deadline for cabinet to decide future of Trans Mountain expansion is today

OTTAWA — The federal government is widely expected to green light the… Continue reading

Pro-pipelines rally draws crowd to City Hall

Canadian Taxpayers Federation says Canada missing out on billions in revenue

Blair says more gun-control action needed, signals no new steps before election

OTTAWA — Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair says more must be done… Continue reading

Pricey tours of decaying Titanic shipwreck delayed until June 2020

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Adventure tourists who paid $168,000 each to help… Continue reading

Police searching for suspect after shooting at Toronto Raptors rally

Toronto police are still looking for a suspect after Monday’s shooting that… Continue reading

The corporate winners and losers from the Toronto Raptors’ historic win

We The North mania spread across Canada as the Toronto Raptors created… Continue reading

Efforts continue to raise profile of New Brunswick sprint champion from 1900s

HALIFAX — A New Brunswick sprinter who achieved world-class success in the… Continue reading

Campaign to eradicate rodents puts other animals at risk

The bird was a female cardinal. It was on the ground and… Continue reading

Opinion: Throwing cold water on fee for calling firefighters

There’s never any upside to adversity. Whether it’s the loss of a… Continue reading

‘This is our story:’ Winnipeg General Strike commemorated on screen, stage

WINNIPEG — A moment in history that changed Canada forever is headed… Continue reading

Most Read