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U18 AAA Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs lose in regional championship

The Chiefs season comes to an end
Red Deer U18 AAA Sutter Fund Chiefs forward Rylee McLeod scores on a breakaway in Game 2 of the 2023 Pacific Regional Championship at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre on Saturday. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

The U18 AAA Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs’ season came to an end on Saturday.

The Chiefs were swept by the number one team in the country, the Fraser Valley Rush in the 2023 Pacific Regional Championship.

On Saturday at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre in Red Deer, the Rush beat the home team 5-2 to win the best of three series.

Red Deer head coach Brett Wold said his message to the team following the Game 2 loss is to remember the feeling and use it as motivation heading into next season.

“Remember this feeling because the next time we get to this spot we don’t want this feeling again,” he said. “Especially the first and second years make sure they remember but I’m super proud of the girls.

“It’s been an unbelievable season and we’re so proud of everything they’ve accomplished and how they came together.”

The winner of the series moves on to represent the region at the Esso Cup in Prince Albert later this month. Despite the loss, the Chiefs didn’t quit on Saturday until the final whistle.

After the Rush scored just minutes into the game the Chiefs found the equalizer five seconds later off the stick of Nadia Lavoie.

Fraser Valley notched one more goal in the opening frame to take a 2-1 lead into the intermission. Red Deer tied the game again seven and a half minutes into the second period when Rylee McLeod sniped a shot on the breakaway.

However, that was as close as they got as the Rush scored three unanswered to take home the championship.

“I think nerves got to us. The Rush is an experienced team. Sixteen of their girls played in Pacifics last year so they came out and showed their experience in Game 1. In Game 2 today I thought we had a heck of an effort. The bounces just didn’t go our way,” Wold said.

“So proud of these girls never giving up. It showed in our provincial final in the gold medal game we were down two goals and never gave up. Even here we were down a couple and we still worked our butts off.”

Potentially 12 players of the 18-person roster could be back on the Chiefs next season and they hope to return to this spot again in 2024.

“We’ve already said it in the room right after the game that our goal is an Esso Cup next year and we think we’ve got the group to do it,” Wold added.

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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