Highwood Raiders cannot muster charge at Mac's
Hockey: Midget AAA team ousted from tournament in group stage
By: By Remy Greer
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 09, 2013 06:00 am
The Highwood Raiders endured a bumpy road in their return to the Mac’s tournament mustering just one win failing to advance to the playoffs.
The Raiders couldn’t cash in on an opening day victory and finished fourth in Pool 7 with a record of 1-1-2 at the Mac’s Midget Tournament in Calgary missing the playoff round.
“We had a really good start,” said Raiders forward Tamala Whiteside, a Black Diamond resident. “Then in the (final game) we just stopped playing as a team and gave up a bit. Everyone did. Hopefully we can learn from it and it will help us in our regular season.”
The Raiders blanked the Prince George Cougars 3-0 in their tournament opener on Boxing Day with Okotoks netminder Pippa Bagley pitching an 18-save shutout.
Highwood then met the Saskatoon Stars and despite outshooting the Saskatchewan outfit the Raiders were handed an unfortunate 3-1 loss to the eventual Pool 7 winners and tournament silver medalists.
The Raiders’ tournament fortunes took a vicious turn in their 5-5 tie with league rival St. Albert on Dec. 29. The Raiders coughed up a two-goal lead with five minutes left, including a devastating game-tying marker from the St. Albert’s Kate Lumley with just 26 seconds remaining.
The 5-5 tie eliminated the Raiders from playoff contention.
“At the end we got really scrambly and forgot that we had a lead and just needed to stay calm and play our game,” said Raiders’ captain Kaylin Snodgrass. “It was a really upsetting moment and game.”
The momentum from the disappointing result looked to follow the Raiders into their tournament closer, an 8-1 romp at the hands of the offensively dynamic Fraser Valley Phantom on Dec. 30.
Raiders head coach Derek Puttick was left frustrated with the inconsistency of a team that began the tournament strong only to end the competition with a blowout loss.
Puttick labeled the seven-goal loss to Fraser Valley, a team that was also eliminated from playoff contention prior to puck-drop, as disastrous. However, Fraser Valley boasted tons of potential as the top-team in the British Columbia AAA league.
“We preach to them the reason we play games is to win. We don’t play just to play,” Puttick said. “Heart and pride are things we preach and the score dictates that we didn’t have a lot of it.”
Despite the less than ideal finale the Mac’s tournament allowed the Midget AAA team the opportunity to play in front of packed houses at the Max Bell Centre and exposure to university scouts.
Snodgrass never saw the ice as an affiliate on the Raiders team at the 2011 Mac’s.
The Longview native walked away two years later with a completely different experience as a tournament second team all-star.
“It was definitely exciting to be here and to have your first chance,” she said. “It was upsetting we weren’t able to move on, but at the same time it was a great experience.”
Kassey Wells, an alternate captain and Snodgrass’ defence partner, said the challenging tournament format lived up to expectations on and off the ice.
“There were a lot of people watching and the pressure of being a third-year player and with university coaches looking at you,” said Wells, a Blackie resident. “It was more motivation than a distraction.”
Wells, a two-way defenceman who logged big minutes for Highwood, finished the tournament with three assists from the back-end.
Okotoks’ Bailey McLellan and linemate Megan Hansen of DeWinton were offensive catalysts for the Raiders all tournament. McLellan played at a point-per-game clip in Calgary finishing with one goal and three assists, while Hansen chipped in with one goal and two helpers.
Okotokian Amanda McLeod, the captain of the Rocky Mountain Bantam AAA Raiders, excelled as an affiliate player for Highwood and registered two goals and three points at the tournament.
The Mac’s experience did proliferate the team belief the Raiders can play with the elite in western Canada, but if shortcuts are taken along the way the results are often unforgiving.
“We’ve proven on multiple occasions that we’re as good as every other team we have come up against,” Puttick said. “But we need a total team effort to be successful.”
The Raiders, 7-7-8 in the Alberta Major Midget Female Hockey League, returned to the ice in High River on Sunday and lost 4-1 to the Red Deer Chiefs.
For more information on the Highwood Raiders go to www.ammfhl-hockey.ca.