The Red Deer Optimist Chiefs may not have come home with gold but they picked up valuable experience in its last tournament.
The midget hockey team made the finals of the 40th Annual Mac’s Midget AAA Tournament but lost 4-0 to the Regina Pat Canadians on New Year’s Day in Calgary.
“Overall, it was a really positive experience for our team,” said head coach Doug Quinn on Tuesday.
The team was obviously disappointed not to win the tournament and probably did not have its best game in the final but there were a lot of positives, said Quinn.
“When I look back and look at the whole tournament I thought our team took another step and we have definitely grown. I was happy with that.
“We have definitely gone to another level as a team,” he said.
“We simply ran out of gas. Seven games in six days is a lot for anybody.”
The Chiefs were one of 25 male hockey teams invited to the event that includes five international entries.
Red Deer was in a pool with the defending champion Belarus National U17 Team, the Calgary Flames, Saskatoon Contacts and Vancouver NW Giants.
The Chiefs went into the quarter-finals with a 3-1 record, including a win over Belarus.
Quinn said this year’s Optimist Chiefs are a younger team and he’s seen the confidence growing and consistency improve.
“The teams we played in that tournament were pretty high end,” he said. Playing some of the top teams in the country took our game to a higher level.
“We want to keep building on that for the rest of the year.”
Winning the tournament would have been nice but it’s not the team’s ultimate goal.
“Our goal is still building towards being one of the top teams at the end of the year.
“It was a great experience, great growth, but it was not our ultimate goal by any means.”