The Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs head coach Doug Young likes what he sees this season, even on defence where he has only two players returning.
“That’s the biggest change, and we’ve had to move two forwards back, but we still have talent back there,” he said. “It’ll take a little bit of time for everyone to adjust, but it’ll be fine.”
Hayley Helland, who has been in the Team Alberta U18 camp, and Megan Innes return to the blueline for the Alberta Midget AAA Female Hockey League squad while Ciana Zweifel, of Stettler and Rikki Leonard of Olds have switched to the blueline.
“The biggest adjustment for them is to get into a defensive mode rather than offensive,” said Young. “But they have the tools to make the change.”
Cassidy Anderson and Hanna Mousek of Olds round out the defence.
Anderson, and her sister Jessica, who is a forward, grew up in Water Valley before moving to Olds last year.
Young has eight veterans up front with Camille Trautman returning or her third year in goal.
Trautman is also with the U18 provincial team.
“Goaltending could be a concern if Camille makes the Alberta team she’ll be away for another extended period of time for the nationals,” said Young, who hopes to keep 14-year-old Megan Kirkland as backup. However, the bantam AAA squad also would like Kirkland on their roster.
“We’d like to keep Megan if it works out,” said Young. “She’s played a couple of games with us and would be a good addition.”
Young has only three new faces on the forward units, including Jessica Anderson.
Fifteen-year-old Jade Petrie moved up from the bantam ranks and has grabbed a spot on the team’s No. 1 line along with Rebecca Glackin and Janelle Froehler.
The other newcomer is Chelsea Peterson, who played midget A last season.
“I definitely like what I see from our forwards,” said Young. “We’re not any bigger, but we’re quicker and have a chance to be more consistent with not that much difference between out first and third lines.”
Alex Gustafson, Rachael Hoppins, Morgan Brandl, Ashley Wilson and Olivia Sutter are also back up front.
“We only kept 10 forwards, a couple less than last year, but that’s fine. It gives everyone playing time and we don’t lose much no matter who’s on,” said Young, who has Allyson Bendfeld and Brooke Einarson as assistant coaches.
Bendfeld has coached in Innisfail and works with Hockey Alberta while Einarson played five years with the University of Regina.
The Chiefs, who have a 2-2 record in league play, returns to action Saturday when they host the Calgary Bruins at 4:30 p.m. at the Arena.