Raiders roll on to regional finals
Hockey: Rocky Mountain sweeps away Red Deer to meet Calgary
Wednesday, Feb 26, 2014 06:00 am
The offensive exploits of an Okotoks defenceman have the Rocky Mountain Bantam AAA Raiders off to the regional finals.
Blueliner Dakota Krebs’ double-overtime tally in Game 2 of the division finals pushed the Raiders to a 2-1 win and two-game sweep of the Red Deer Rebels White on Saturday.
“I made a move around their winger up top, skated to the high slot made a move on another guy who came against me and scored bar-down from right inside the slot,” said Krebs, a Grade 9 student at Westmount School.
“I was a little bit in shock, I just jumped into the glass and everybody jumped on me. It’s definitely a memory.”
Facing elimination, Red Deer jumped out to an early lead through Devon Fankhanel’s first-period tally. Rocky Mountain left it late, but managed to tie it up 1-1 with 2:20 left thanks to Okotoks’ Nolan Steer.
The Raiders took Game 1 of the division finals by a 3-2 count in similarly dramatic fashion on Feb. 18 at the Scott Seaman Sports Rink.
The Ram South Division foes were even at 2-2 heading into the second intermission, with Krebs and DeWinton’s Ty Budai scoring for the Raiders, before rangy forward Kale Clouston put on his Superman cape to seal the victory.
Following a crucial five-on-three kill for the Raiders, Clouston buried a rebound opportunity with 43 seconds on the clock to sew up the 3-2 win for the hosts.
Isaiah Betinol backstopped the Raiders in both wins, stopping 55 of 58 shots in the series to remain undefeated in the post-season.
“It was a series of inches,” said Raiders head coach Mickey Kluner. “It was really tight and both came down to the final play of the game.”
The Raiders have been making memories since the outset of the playoffs. Through two rounds, they are a perfect 4-0 and boast series sweeps on both the Red Deer Rebels White and Black teams.
Three of the four victories have been of the one-goal variety.
“That’s incredibly encouraging,” Kluner said. “Our team is based off winning all those small battles and we know we’re going to be in tight games.
“Being able to be on the positive end of those one-goal games as opposed to the wrong end is encouraging and gives us a lot of positives going into the next series.”
Next up for the Raiders is a regional finals date with the Calgary Flames, the top team in the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League’s Challenger South with an impressive 27-3-3 record in the regular season.
The Flames were 2-0-1 against the Raiders in the regular season and for Rocky Mountain to turn the record around in the best-of-five series, it will need discipline and excellence on specialty-teams.
“This next series we will definitely have to play the body a little more,” Krebs said. “They’re a very urgent team, they pressure the puck a lot so the special teams will definitely be a big deal in this series.
“Getting a goal on the powerplay or getting scored (when) on the penalty kill makes a difference.”
Game 1 of the series is tonight, Feb . 26, in Calgary. Game 2 is March 1 at the Scott Seaman Sports Rink.
The North regional final features Edmonton SSAC and the Lloydminster Heat.
For more information go to ambhl.ab.ca