The second half of the season did not go as planned for the Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs in the Alberta Midget AAA Female Hockey League.
Since the beginning of January, Red Deer has lost eight of 11 games. Rock bottom was a shootout loss to the Edmonton Pandas, the last place team in the league.
After sputtering to the finish, the Sutter Fund Chiefs have had a good break and are ready for their shot a provincial supremacy.
They will play host to the 2018 Midget AAA Female Provincials, which get underway March 23.
“Maybe things happen for a reason, maybe the hockey gods wanted us to struggle a bit and find our way and be battle ready for the tournament,” head coach Bob Rutz said.
“We just had some peaks and valleys. In a lot of those games, we were right there. We outshot teams, we outplayed teams, but we had pockets of time where we just let our foot off the gas. Other teams took advantage of that.”
Since the regular season ended, Rutz said his team has gone back to basics and ironed out the fundamentals of their game.
He believes that will be key if they hope to make some noise next week.
“Everyday has been a different theme in practice for us. We had a couple scrimmages last week where we worked on overtime stuff and 4-on-4,” Rutz said.
“Devoted an entire practice to D-zone and forecheck… It’s a chance for us to go back and reinforce the habits we need with our structure and all our systems.”
Sutter Fund Chiefs captain Paige Grenier is excited to get the tournament underway and thinks the team is motivated to come out on top in front of the home crowd.
“We want to take a run at this thing. Obviously, Alberta always brings out good teams to the tournament, so it’s going to be tough competition but I’m looking forward to it,” she said.
“Anytime you get to host a tournament, it’s something special getting to play in front of the home crowd. I encourage lots of people to come out, especially if they have young girls playing hockey.”
Red Deer will open the tournament March 23 at Servus Arena against the St. Albert Slash. Game 2 will be against the league-leading Rocky Mountain Raiders.
“We’ve stressed just keep working hard. If you’re not working hard, you won’t get the breaks. Just play the game the right way and do things you’re supposed to do and hopefully it will pay off,” Rutz said.