The Red Deer Optimist Chiefs will play in the quarterfinal. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Optimist Chiefs lose final round robin game at Mac’s, but advance to quarterfinal

CALGARY- The Red Deer Optimist Chiefs are off to the quarterfinal in the 40th Annual Mac’s Midget AAA Tournament.

With a 3-1 record, the Chiefs wrapped up a Pool 2 victory and will face the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Sunday morning at 9 a.m. Lethbridge goalie Byron Fancy is a Red Deer Rebels prospect.

Red Deer lost their final round robin game of the tournament on Saturday 5-2 to the Saskatoon Contacts, but had already clinched the pool win after beating the Belarus National U17 team on Friday night.

In the loss to the Contacts, Saskatoon opened the scoring with first period goals by Alexander Morozoff and Davin Griffin. Morozoff finished the game with five points.

Hunter Leslie cut the deficit for Red Deer 41 seconds into the second, but the Contacts responded with two quick goals. Rylan Burns added another marker for Red Deer late in the second but the Contacts added an empty-net goal late in the game to seal the victory.

Bretton Park made 16 saves in net for the Optimist Chiefs.

In Friday’s thrilling victory over the Belarus National U17 team, Red Deer trailed 3-2 heading into the final frame but scored three times to clinch the win. Brett Meerman and Cade Mason scored for the Optimist Chiefs in the first and second periods respectively.

In the third, Kyle Budvarson scored short-handed, before Keenan Smith notched an unassisted marker and Josh McNeil capped it off with a power play marker at 6:10 of the final frame.

Duncan Hughes made 22 saves in the win.

If the Optimist Chiefs win their quarterfinal game tomorrow, they’ll play at 3 p.m. in the semis, with the final going at 4 p.m. on Jan. 1 at the ScotiaBank Saddledome.

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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