Royals 5 Chiefs 3
The Red Deer Optimist Chiefs missed out on an opportunity to move back into playoff position on Friday night.
Despite taking a two-goal lead in the first period, they fell 5-3 to the Calgary Royals (16-9-5), leaving them in seventh place in the Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League. The loss leaves them one point behind the Calgary Flames (9-13-8) for the sixth and final post-season berth.
But with one game in hand and a showdown with the Flames on Sunday in Cowtown, Chiefs (10-14-5) head coach Brandin Cote is confident they will find a way in.
“We have some games we are definitely capable of winning coming down the stretch, we’re still in control of our own destiny,” he said. “They way it has gone up and down like this, yeah it’s frustrating, but you can look at many examples of teams that get hot at the right time, get into the playoffs and roll. I’m not giving up on this team by any means.”
Reed Morison, Reece Soukoroff, Shane Allan, Liam Motely and Josh Giacomin scored for the Royals while Caiden Kreitz made 26 saves for the win.
The Chiefs responded with goals from Ryan Vandervlis, Chase Olsen and Tyler Graber. Branden Bilodeau made 26 saves in the loss.
The Chiefs opened the scoring with goals from Vandervlis at 10:15 and Olsen at 14:55 of the first period, but Morison’s tally at 17:51 of the period killed Red Deer’s momentum heading into the intermission.
The Royals continued to roll in the second frame, scoring three goals to take the lead and full control of the game.
The Chiefs played better in the third period but struggled to get much going until the final minutes with Bilodeau on the bench.
Graber scored a rebound goal at 17:32 giving the Chiefs life, but then they gave the goal right back off a draw at 19:15. Red Deer won the draw to the left of Kreitz but turned the puck over immediately, giving Giacomin an open lane to the empty net at 19:21.
Cote says they played well, but they have to be better.
“At this time of the year you have to have everyone giving everything they have, and we don’t have that for some reason,” he said. “It’s been one of those never ending battles all year where we have good stretches and then we revert to the not so good stuff.”