Raiders go extra-mile to put Flyers on the ropes
Hockey: Overtime heroics in playoff opener for Midget AAA girls
Wednesday, Feb 26, 2014 06:00 am
Game 2: Highwood 6 - Calgary 2
Game 3: Calgary at Highwood (Feb. 28, 6:30 p.m. Scott Seaman Rink)
*Game 4: Highwood at Calgary (March 1)
*Game 5: Calgary at Highwood (March 2, 2 p.m. at Scott Seaman Rink)
The Highwood Raiders used some Olympic inspiration to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in their playoff opener.
Channelling the Canadian women’s hockey team’s epic comeback at the Winter Games in Sochi, the Raiders stormed back for a 5-4 overtime victory through captain Kaylin Snodgrass to take Game 1 of the South semifinal series over the Calgary Flyers, Saturday at Scott Seaman Sports Rink.
“It was really scrambly and all of our forwards were down low and one chick had it behind the net and I saw an open lane,” said Snodgrass from Longview on the overtime-game-winner. “Their weak-side winger didn’t take me so I could just drop right in and shoot it.”
Highwood sent the game to overtime in the dying moments of the third period after persistent pressure in the Flyers’ zone finally paid dividends. Raiders Winger Emily Potts was on the doorstep to smash a rebound past Calgary’s Sarah Murray with just 71 seconds on the clock.
“That really boosted our bench up and I thought that was really good because we brought the momentum into overtime and that’s what we really needed to win,” Snodgrass said. “We showed the same kind of resilience they (Team Canada) did at the very end, pulled together and won.”
The late stage heroics didn’t seem as though they would be necessary in the second-round icebreaker after the Raiders took it to the visitors in the opening frame, building a 3-0 lead.
Alternate captain Hannah Olenyk opened the scoring when she got behind the Flyers’ defence and beat the goalie on a deft forehand deke. On the next shift, Raiders winger Tamala Whiteside had all day to lift a loose puck in the slot into the yawning cage. Whiteside, playing on a line with Potts and Gabrielle Seper, was at the centre of Highwood’s third goal when her shot careened off the goalie for Potts to stick into the net on the powerplay.
“The key to our line is we always force them and once we have it we cycle it down low until we can get someone out front,” said Whiteside, a student at Oilfields High School. “And then we just feed it to them.”
Following a dominant first-period performance, the Raiders let complacency enter their game and Calgary made them pay early and often. The Flyers got two on the board just 48 seconds into the second stanza with Tess Adams netting both for the visitors. Calgary’s Jessica Squires would even the game at 3-3 midway through the period.
“In the first we were getting pucks deep and getting lots of shots on net and crashing it,” Whiteside said. “Then we just kind of got too cocky and thought it was going to be a walk and that didn’t really work for us.”
Calgary completed the comeback against the run of play in the third period when Tianna Ko converted off a face-off win. The Raiders spent the final nine minutes of the period crashing the net, ultimately leading to Potts’ crucial tying goal.
”Maybe we will call that our first game jitters into the playoffs,” said Raiders head coach Jason Seper. “Hopefully our team learned a valuable lesson that in 64 minutes you can’t take any shifts off. They’re just as hungry, if not more hungry than we are.
“We adjusted in the third, gave them one iffy goal, but we showed a lot of character and heart at the end. We played hockey like we should be all game.”
The sequel didn’t quite have the same dramatic element when the series shifted north to Calgary’s Max Bell Centre for Game 2 on Sunday.
Highwood parlayed a three-goal second period into a 6-2 victory to move one win away from the South finals. Potts paced the Raiders with a two-goal effort with Sarah Lecavalier, Olenyk and sisters Gabrielle and Nicolette Seper also finding the back of the net.
Okotoks’ Pippa Bagley stopped 19 of 21 shots to pick up her second win of the series.
Highwood can close out the best-of-five series on home-ice this weekend. Puck-drop for Game 3 is at 6:30 p.m. on Friday at the Scott Seaman Sports Rink.
In the other South Division semifinal, the Southeast Tigers and Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs are locked up at 1-1.
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