Red Deer Senior Rustlers forward Andrew McArthur carries the puck around the Sylvan Lake Pirates net in the first period of the opening game of round one of the North Central Hockey League Senior AA Playoffs at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Red Deer Senior Rustlers knock off Sylvan Lake Pirates in inaugural playoff game

The Red Deer Rustlers are a leg up in the North Central Hockey League Senior AA playoffs.

They picked up a pair of victories on the weekend and lead the Sylvan Lake Pirates 2-0 in the first round of the best-of-five series.

Sunday at the Collicutt Centre, Red Deer was dominant with a 5-0 shutout win.

Dustin Moore opened the scoring with a shorthanded tally in the first. They pulled away with three straight goals in the second and finished the game with more than 50 shots.

“The Pirates threw a lot at us again in the first period,” said Moore. “But, just like Saturday, we stuck to our game, and we broke through in the second period and just kept our foot on the gas.”

Tyler Berkholtz scored twice for Red Deer, Derek Ryckman also added a goal and Brett Bothwell stopped 21 shots for the shutout.

In the opening game of round one, Red Deer earned a 3-1 win in their inaugural playoff appearance. They knocked off the Sylvan Lake Pirates, who were also in their first ever playoff game.

“It’s playoff hockey, most of these guys have played some playoff hockey, but some haven’t played it in a few years. It’s exciting. It’s great,” said Rustlers head coach Scott Odegard.

“Two teams that win, get to go to provincials. It’s exciting for this league for sure.”

On the big ice at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre in the game 1 of the best-of-five series, it was the Rustlers with a few extra bodies that eventually found the advantage.

“There was a lot of intensity. We did really well and Red Deer is a really great team. The boys plugged away and did the best they could,” said Pirates coach Scott Barnes, who added it was tough in the latter half of the contest with only 12 players.

We have to get more bodies… we just got a bit tired half way through the second period it was 1-1, we just didn’t have enough gas left.”

With the game tied 1-1 midway through the second, Moore lit the lamp on the power play for the Rustlers. Berkholtz added another late in the frame and that was all the home side needed to earn the victory.

“We compete. If you don’t compete you don’t have fun and that’s the bottom line here,” added Odegard.

Pirates goalie Cody Nicolay was second star, he stopped 55 shots in the contest.

Game 3 is set for Saturday, February 2 at 7:30 p.m. at the Nexsource Centre in Sylvan Lake.

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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