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U18 AAA Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs continuing success in second half

They’re 14-5 with 11 games remaining

The U18 AAA Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs are playing at an elite level in the Alberta Female Hockey League (AFHL).

Sitting in third place in the standings behind the Calgary Fire and the St. Albert Bauer Slash, the Chiefs are 14-5 with 11 games remaining in the regular season.

Head coach Brett Wold said they’ve exceeded expectations so far this year.

“It all starts with our culture in our dressing room. The girls have been unbelievable so that’s really set the tone for our season,” Wold said.

“The girls have shown that we’re a powerhouse in the league… We were expecting to be in the top three but to be 14-5 we’re a couple of wins ahead of where I thought we’d be.

“To already have a strong first half and to continue this into the second half that’s where my expectations were exceeded.”

The Chiefs have already returned from the Christmas break with a pair of wins in their first three games beating the Slash and most recently the Lloydminster Steelers.

“We’ve just got to continue to play playoff hockey. Just continue working hard keeping it simple and playing Chiefs hockey,” he added.

The Chiefs play a fast-paced brand of hockey with plenty of depth in the forward position but also like to keep it simple. Forward Rylee McLeod leads the AFHL with 14 goals and is third in the league with 20 points.

Defenceman Ryann Holbein is also having a big year with 18 points (two goals and 16 assists), which is seventh in the AFHL and forward Nadia Lavoie is close behind with 16 points (eight goals and eight assists).

“Rylee McLeod has really had a season so far and she just continues to keep going with it… We’ve been really pumped to see her grow and this has been a breakout season for her,” he said.

They’ve also seen success in their special team’s play. They’re second in the league on the powerplay with a 24.7 per cent success rate and posted a league-best 93.8 per cent on the penalty kill.

Between the pipes, the Chiefs have rotated between two goaltenders Taya Christie and Ashtyn Berthiaume. Between the two of them, they’ve posted two of the top three save percentages in the league and sit fifth and sixth in goals against average.

Christie appeared in 11 games posting an 8-2 record with a 1.89 GAA and a .934 save percentage. Meanwhile, Berthiaume has played in nine games at 6-3 contributing a 1.99 GAA and a .936 save percentage.

“Our goaltenders have been our rocks back there,” Wold said. “I think we’ve got the best goalie tandem in the league. We’ve been rotating and it’s been working so we’ve got an even split going on. We’re excited to head into playoffs with two goalies rolling and playing good hockey.

“Our goaltending is our strong point… The girls trust both of our goalies and they can make big saves when we need them.”

Ian Gustafson

About the Author: Ian Gustafson

Ian began his journalism career as a reporter in Prince Albert, Sask. for the last three years, and was born and raised in Saskatchewan.
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