Chiefs 5 Stampeders 2
Playing at home is sometimes tougher than being on the road.
Just ask Red Deer IROC Chiefs head coach Tom Bast.
Although the Chiefs came away with a 5-2 victory over the Calgary Stampeders in their opening game of the Alberta Minor Midget AAA South Division Sutter Cup playoffs at the Arena Thursday afternoon, it took them some time to get into their rhythm.
“At times I’d rather play on the road, the kids are more relaxed than they are playing in front of friends and family,” said Bast. “It just adds a little pressure whereas on the road you can keep things simple.”
The Chiefs fell behind 1-0 in the opening period, although they held a 14-5 edge in shots on goal.
“The first period was our toughest,” added Bast. “But once the kids got their nerves out of their system I felt we started to play IROC hockey. I was pleased with our defensive style.”
The Chiefs allowed only 16 shots overall and only two in the third period. Meanwhile they fired 44 shots on Stampeders netminder Daniel Cusano, who was their player of the game.
Bast likes to run a system similar to the Detroit Red Wings.
“All year we’ve played a game were we have a lot of skating, a lot of passing . . . a puck possession game, much like Detroit. We’re not a big, physical team where we grind it out, eventhough we have people who can do that. But the kids have bought into our style and we have 19 kids who want to play together and that’s a key.”
The Chiefs spread their scoring around, with defenceman Colton Bobyk notching a pair of power play goals in the third period that gave Red Deer a 5-1 lead.
“Our power play took a little time to get rolling,” added Bast. “Usually our power play and penalty kill is very good, but once again we were slow to start. But I liked it once we got rolling.”
Tyler Chavez Leech, Carter Sawicki and Ross Heidt scored for the Chiefs in the second period with Scott Ternes and Dayne Garnick adding a pair of assists each.
Joseph Desrosiers picked up the win in goal.
Bast liked the fact the scoring was spread out.
“All year we roll four lines and to be successful here we have to continue to do that. The thing is we’re balanced up front and we play team defence.”
Two of the best hits in the game came from two of the smaller rearguards — Gabe Bast and Jesse Freeborn, who is an affiliated player up from the bantam AAA Rebels White.
“They play a little bit on the edge,” said Bast with a smile. “I kind of get nervous watching them, but they’re physically strong on their feet. Jesse hasn’t had much practice time with us, but has fit in nicely.”
The Chiefs face the Calgary Blazers today at 11:45 a.m. at the Arena and the Calgary Bruins at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Kinex.
The top two teams in each pool advance to the semifinals Sunday morning. The final goes at 5:30 p.m. at the Arena.
“This was just step one, we have a long road to go,” said Bast.
“The key is to win all three games and see where we end up. In this format you can’t make a mistake and lose a game.”
Mark Rassel and Shaun Cooke scored for the Stampeders.
In other pool play, the Canucks downed the Bruins 5-2 and the CXalgary Blue beat the Blazers 5-2.