Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs forward Ardyn Hawrysko is defended tightly by two Edmonton Pandas players in the Chiefs home opener of the Alberta Female Hockey League Midget AAA season. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs forward Ardyn Hawrysko is defended tightly by two Edmonton Pandas players in the Chiefs home opener of the Alberta Female Hockey League Midget AAA season. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Pandas edge Sutter Fund Chiefs in AFHL home opener

Pandas 3 Chiefs 1

There’s still a long way to go this season for the Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs.

In their Alberta Female Hockey League Midget AAA home opener against the Edmonton Pandas, the Chiefs learned a crucial lesson about what it takes to close out a game.

Red Deer was up 1-0 heading into the third period, but the Pandas dominated the final frame, with three unanswered goals on the way to a 3-1 victory.

“I thought it was a decent start to our season. First two periods we were right with them. We were up 1-0. Third period, we just ran out of gas. We gotta get in better shape for sure,” said Brett Wold, who is in his first season as the Chiefs head coach.

“They came at us hard. You gotta give Edmonton credit. Our girls were battling but at the end of the day, I think we just need to be in better.”

Undisciplined play cost Red Deer in the third, as the Pandas cashed in twice on the power play with under 10 minutes to go in the game. The tying goal was scored by Chole Reid. Jacquelyn Fleming had the game-winner for Edmonton. Monica Bowtell had the lone goal for Red Deer in the loss.

“I want the girls to play aggressive. I want them to play to contact. We got caught a couple of times running around, long shifts and we just weren’t ready for their speed,” Wold added.

Ridleigh Hansen stopped 25 shots in goal for the Chiefs.

As a whole, the Chiefs are relatively young this season, with only six returning players. Defenceman Aryn Chambers and Ponoka’s Kylie Perry are back with the group this season, both of whom were recently selected to Team Alberta U18 for the U18 National Championships in Winkler, Man. later this winter. Jordyn McLaughlin, Stephanie Keeper, Hailey Hoogkamp, Julie Wagner are all also back.

For Wold, with such a young group, it means there will be some growing pains early in the year, but he hopes they can peak in the new year.

“We younger, we’re new and fresh. It’s been a good change and it’s a good dynamic. Our dressing room has been really tight and that’s good to see,” Wold said.

“It’s a process. They can’t just come in and expect to be studs right away. They gotta stick to the simple things and work hard. Learn the game and it’s going to take probably until Christmas for a lot of these kids.”

Red Deer is back on the ice Sunday at home against the Calgary Fire at the Gary W. Harris Canada Game Centre. Puck drop is 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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