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Oilers top Sutter Fund Chiefs for gold at provincials

Battle for the provincial title
The Edmonton Jr. Oilers celebrate after winning the AFHL U18 AAA Provincial Championship over the Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs 2-1 in the gold medal game at Servus Arena in Red Deer on Sunday. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

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The Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs lost a heartbreaker in the Alberta Female Hockey League U18 AAA Provincial Championship gold medal game.

Despite outshooting the Edmonton Jr. Oilers 41-20 on Sunday afternoon at Servus Arena, the Chiefs fell 2-1 in the championship game in Red Deer.

Red Deer head coach Brett Wold said in terms of effort they couldn’t have asked the girls to do much more.

“They did everything that we asked them to do today. It’s just one of those things where the puck bounces didn’t go our way,” Wold said.

“Kudos to them. They stuck to the game plan, we outplayed them, and we outshot them. Some days, it just doesn’t go your way.”

After both teams failed to score in the opening period, Oilers forward Layla Matthew scored at the 12:27 mark of the second period.

Edmonton added one more early in the third period when forward Daniella Martorana scored on the powerplay to lead 2-0.

However, Red Deer’s relentless offensive efforts didn’t go unrewarded.

With four minutes to go in the game, Chiefs leading scorer Chloe Goofers put Red Deer on the scoresheet to close the gap.

From then on until the final buzzer, the Chiefs held the puck in Edmonton’s end, providing tremendous pressure to find the equalizer, but they were unable to find the back of the net.

The Chiefs appeared to be on top of their game on both ends of the ice holding the Oilers to under 10 shots per period while also firing double-digit shots on net in each period.

After winning the provincial title last season Red Deer retooled their lineup in hopes of pushing for the repeat and even a national title.

For the entire season, they held the top spot in the AFHL standings and were ranked the top U18 Tier I female team in Canada, according to My Hockey Rankings.

“There’s not much to say after a loss like this,” Wold said.

“We still had a heck of a season and we still accomplished a ton of things. The way they came together as a group and the lessons they learned in that way off the ice they can bring that into their lives.”

Meanwhile, on the other end of the ice, the Oilers were on cloud nine.

An unbelievable 40-save performance led them from netminder Ella Dunham-Fox, who was bombarded with shots the entire game.

Head coach Joel Lenius said it felt amazing to come out on top.

“We have so many new players on our team this year we didn’t know what to expect. Everybody bought into the culture… And we’re a very tight-knit family. I’m happy for them because they really came together as a group,” he said.

“I can’t speak highly enough about [the Chiefs] and how talented they are. It’s always hard seeing the girls and the coaches upset. We’ve been there and know that feeling. It’s tough to see and they’ve been an amazing competitor all season.”

Next year, the Chiefs will have a new coaching staff as Wold moves on from the team. He hopes they can continue to build on what he and the rest of the staff have formed over the last eight years.

“We still want this program to be successful. It took us a lot of years to build it and we don’t want to see it go downhill,” he said.

“The plan is to just keep it going and keep everything we’ve built and keep moving forward.”

The U15 AA Sutter Fund Chiefs also competed for gold on Sunday at provincials in Airdrie against the Edmonton Pandas but lost 3-1.

In the Alberta Elite Hockey League, the U15 AAA Red Deer Rebels claimed the bronze medal in a 4-2 win over the Sherwood Park Flyers in Edmonton.

Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs forward Ava Caputo skated with the puck through the offensive against the Edmonton Jr. Oilers in the gold medal game of the AFHL U18 AAA Provincial Championship at Servus Arena on Sunday. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

Ian Gustafson

About the Author: Ian Gustafson

Ian began his journalism career as a reporter in Prince Albert, Sask. for the last three years, and was born and raised in Saskatchewan.
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