Red Deer Optimist Chiefs forward Brett Meerman celebrates a goal during the team’s home opening 6-2 win over the Lloydminster Bobcats on Friday night at the Kinex. (Photo by Byron Hackett/Advocate Staff)

Optimist Chiefs win big in home opener

The Red Deer Optimist Chiefs flicked the offensive switch just long enough in the second period to pull out a win Friday night.

In their Alberta Midget Hockey League home opener, the Optimist Chiefs scored four times in five minutes late in the second, powering them to a 6-2 win over the Lloydminster Bobcats.

Red Deer head coach Doug Quinn didn’t like the first half of the game for his team but said after scrapping an experimental forecheck in the third period along with a little bit of a confidence booster in the goal department turned the tide for his team.

“We started to have a little bit of success. We relaxed a little bit. We needed to gain a little bit of confidence. We had a pretty good preseason and then had a couple tough games at the start of the year. Getting a couple goals got us going,” Quinn said.

Down 2-1 in slow-moving contest, Deegan Mofford tied the game for Red Deer and just over two minutes later Brett Meerman wristed home what turned out to be the game-winning goal.

Captain Josh McNeil scored the opening goal for the Optimist Chiefs and added his second of the night only 16 seconds after Meerman’s. Tye Carriere added a tally with 2:24 left in the second and Cade Mason scored the only goal of the third when he dove headlong for a loose puck behind the Lloydminster goalie.

Quinn said that McNeil, who finished Friday with a three-point night, after a down season last year has been leader with his play early on this season.

“I was really happy with Josh McNeil. We weren’t really playing that good. He scored our first goal and got us back in,” Quinn said.

”I was happy for him, last year he didn’t score the way he wanted. So far this year he’s already put in a few goals.”

The head coach added that while they have a young roster this season he believes offensively, they are likely better off than they have been the last few seasons.

“We’re younger than we have been the last couple of years that I’ve been a part of it,” Quinn said.

“We have a little bit more offensive ability. Our goaltending has been solid. We just need to adapt to the league a little bit and the speed. I think once we make that adjustment and the guys settle in we’ll be good.”

The Optimist Chiefs are back on the ice Sunday afternoon at the Kinex when they host the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Puck drop is 4 p.m.

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