High River Heat end Red Deer Renegades season

The High River Heat played the underdog role to perfection.

They came into Red Deer on a mission and ousted the favourite in dramatic fashion.

Sunday, High River knocked off the second-ranked Red Deer Renegades in the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League Junior B Tier II best-of-three south division series semi-final.

They needed a wild 14-13 overtime victory Saturday, before clinching the series Sunday with a 10-8 win over the Renegades.

“Hats off to them, they came in and executed their game plan a little better than we did ours,” said Renegades coach Mike Clark

“They were quicker, much quicker and when we played them earlier in the year it was mostly outside shots and that’s what we prepared for. The last two games it was more inside and it caught us off guard. No excuses, after the first one or two goals we should have caught on.”

It was a tough way for the season to end for Red Deer, who lost just once this season and had high hopes for another run at a provincial title.

“The boys played hard. Ran into a tough team and we ended up on the short side of the stick,” Clark said.

“We were pretty evenly matched. Biggest difference was we weren’t prepared for the transition game. They scored a lot of transition goals and we didn’t keep up to them.”

In the loss Sunday, Red Deer rallied on a number of occasions, but three quick goals from the Heat early in the third period was too much to overcome for the home side.

Still, the Renegades made things interesting, getting within a goal at 4:29 of the final frame. Heat goalie Aaron Bayliss stood tall from there, including several saves with the Red Deer goalie pulled in the final minute.

Bayliss was another big reason the Heat were victorious, as he finished the game with 51 saves.

“100 per cent, we think we were going to overtime, tying it up. Their goalie played excellent,” Clark said.

“We weren’t ready for that today, he played great.”

Ryan Mulder had a pair of goals in the loss for Red Deer and Riley Sitko also buried a pair.

With the win, the Heat advanced to the provincial final, joining the Sylvan Lake Yetti as the other South Division representative. Sylvan Lake knocked off the Medicine Hat Sun Devils in two straight games in the other best-of-three semifinal. Junior B Tier II Provincials are in Cold Lake from July 19-21.

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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