Phantom punch knocks out Raiders
Hockey: Highwood advances to semifinals at the Mac’s
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 08, 2014 06:00 am
The Highwood Raiders loaded up on the holiday gravy at one of the most prestigious Midget girls’ tournaments of the year.
The Raiders’ semifinal finish at the Mac’s Midget Hockey tournament on Dec. 26 to Jan. 1 should provide them plenty of fuel for the remainder of the Alberta Major Midget Female Hockey League season.
Highwood was knocked out of the tournament when they were beaten 6-1 by the Fraser Valley Phantoms in the semifinal Jan. 31 at the Max Bell Arena.
“We are going to learn from a loss like this — that other team, Fraser Valley, played for the Esso Cup (the national Midget girls championship) last year and that is the ultimate goal for us,” said Raiders head coach Jason Seper. “We got a taste of what it is going to take. I’m hoping this tournament is a stepping stone for us. We have been preaching all year long that the tournaments are the gravy and the league and the playoffs are our meat and potatoes.”
The Raiders proved they could play with the Phantoms in the early going as they dominated the opening 10 minutes.
However, it was Fraser Valley who drew first blood.
“They got a couple of bounces early on us and we find ourselves behind the eight-ball,” Seper said. “They got a few breaks there and we had our chances in the first period but we just couldn’t finish.”
Fraser Valley’s Valencia Yordanov proved why she was named the top goalie of the tournament as she stonewalled the Raiders’ attack.
The Phantoms got on the scoreboard first when Fraser Valley captain Mackenzie Wong’s shot bounced through a maze of players and found the back of the net.
Fraser Valley would go into the locker room with a 2-0 lead when Raiders goalie Pippa Bagley made a terrific pad save only to have the Phantom’s Chelsea Wilson bang in the rebound with 6.7 seconds left in the period.
They would up their lead to 3-0 early in the second period when Wong’s shot trickled through a chorus line of legs in front of Bagley.
Bagley faced more traffic in front of her than a mall on Boxing Day.
“They crashed the net really hard and are aggressive on the puck — they won a lot of the battles,” Seper said of the Phantoms. “That is one of the things we are going to have to do better in the future.”
The Phantoms learned to go to the net from girls living in the Wildrose province, according to Phantom coach Dean Reed.
“That was one of our goals,” Reed said about putting bodies in front of the net.
“This is our fourth year here and we learned that from the Alberta girls. In our league it is not always that physical.”
The Phantoms made it 4-0 with six minutes remaining in the second stanza on a shot by Shannon Morris-Reade that went under a diving Bagley.
Highwood got on the scoreboard when Hannah Olenyk picked up a loose puck at the side of the Phantoms’ net and then roofed it on Yordanov’s glove side to close the gap to 4-1.
The Raiders’ momentum was snuffed out when Fraser Valley’s Morris-Reade scored a powerplay goal in the final minute of the second period to make it 5-1.
“They just got close to the net and capitalized on their chances,” Bagley said. “I would like to have two of those goals in the second period back, but there is nothing I can do about it.”
Bagley faced 35 shots in her two periods of work. Courtney Toney replaced her in the final period.
The Raiders gave up a powerplay goal in the final 20 minutes to make the final 6-1.
Prior to their semifinal loss, the Raiders were a perfect 4-0 in round-robin play.
They opened the Mac’s with a 3-2 victory over the Spruce Grove Saints on Boxing Day. Cassidy Trotter, a Grade 10 student at Holy Trinity Academy in Okotoks, netted the game winner.
“I was pretty excited to get that goal,” she said. “We had lots of players in front of the net and I just shot it.”
Highwood then came back from a 2-1 deficit to down the Lloydminster Steelers 4-2 on Dec. 28. Emily Potts, Sarah Lecavalier, Olenyk and Gabrielle Seper scored for Highwood with Bagley notching the win.
The Raiders then shutout the Kootenay Wildcats 5-0 on Dec. 29 with Lecavalier getting the hat trick and Trotter and captain Kaylin Snodgrass from Longview also scoring for Highwood.
The Raiders closed out the round robin with a 3-1 win over the Melville Fox Prairie Fire on Jan. 30. Toney stopped 18 shots in the win with Paige Russell, Seper and Black Diamond’s Tamala Whiteside potting goals for Highwood.
“This is my second year at the Mac’s and it was way better this year because we pulled together,” Whiteside said. “We will just take this loss and learn from it in the future.”
Snodgrass said while the team was disappointed with the semifinal loss, their overall effort in the tourney bodes well for the future.
“We realize that we only lost one game in the Mac’s and did very well overall,” Snodgrass said. “The team we faced today (Fraser Valley) is like what we will face in the playoffs and we can learn from this.”
The Mac’s tournament was won by the Westman Wildcats from Manitoba who beat the Phantoms 2-1 in triple overtime in the final on New Year’s Day at the Saddledome.
The Raiders resumed league play on the weekend and they didn’t have a Mac’s tournament hangover.
They beat the Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs 5-0 Saturday at the Scott Seaman Rink in Davisburg.
Gabrielle Seper had a pair of goals in the victory. Lecavalier, Teagan Borbandy and Whiteside had single markers in the victory.
Toney stopped all eight shots to record the shutout.
They then tied the Southeast Tigers from Lethbridge 3-3 Sunday at the Seaman rink.
Gabrielle Seper potted two goals with Brette Matheson also beating the Tigers goalie.
Bagley got the start in net for Highwood.
Highwood has a 14-4-5 record and are in first place in the South Division. Its next home game is Jan. 12 when it takes on the Calgary Flyers at the Scott Seaman Arena at 2 p.m.
For more information about the Mac’s tournament go to www.macstournament.ab.ca.
For more information about the girls major midget league go to www.ammfhl-hockey.ca