Raiders roll into league finals

Hockey: Highwood seeking first championship in meeting with Edmonton

By: Remy Greer

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Mar 19, 2014 08:33 pm

Highwood Raiders forward Tamala Whiteside controls the puck during semifinal play against the Red Deer Chiefs. The Raiders eliminated the Chiefs in four games to advance to the league finals versus the Edmonton Thunder.
Highwood Raiders forward Tamala Whiteside controls the puck during semifinal play against the Red Deer Chiefs. The Raiders eliminated the Chiefs in four games to advance to the league finals versus the Edmonton Thunder.
Remy Greer/OWW

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The Highwood Raiders have a chance to do something special when puck-drops on the league championships this weekend.

The AAA Raiders are looking to bookend a tremendous season by making program history in winning their first league and provincial banner when they meet the dynastic Edmonton Thunder in the best-of-five championship series.

“We’re trying to leave a legacy for the Raiders this year,” stated Raiders forward Tamala Whiteside. “We already have so we might as well just set the bar higher.”

Highwood will have to go through the powerhouse franchise in the AAA ranks over the past several seasons to win its elusive banner. In its way is the Thunder, the kings of the north and five-time defending Alberta Major Midget Female Hockey League (AMMFHL) titleholders.

The Raiders might get a sense of double-vision in the championship series as the Thunder roll with a high-pressure system akin to their southern foes.

“They put a lot of pressure on all the time,” Whiteside said. “Even when they have a penalty, their PK is very strong. Everything they do is very strong.”

Edmonton earned a slight edge in the season series by picking up the only win in two meetings, by a 2-1 count in early February, after the teams skated to a 4-4 tie earlier in the season.

“It’s been a long time since the Raiders have even won the South so it’s good we have that under our belt, but we really want to be the first team to beat Edmonton,” said Raiders captain Kaylin Snodgrass, from Longview. “It would mean quite a lot, especially to a lot of our third-years. We’ve been around for quite a long time through Bantam and Midget and (the championship) is definitely something that we’ve worked towards.

“It’s something we all think we deserve so we’re just going to try our best and work our hardest.”

Highwood booked its ticket to the finals by shutting out the Red Deer Chiefs 6-0 on Saturday to wrap up the South finals in four games.

“We just poured it on,” Whiteside said. “Having a big win like that is definitely motivation for the next round.”

Snodgrass paced the club with a two-goal first period with alternate captain Gabrielle Seper adding a pair of tallies and Hannah Olenyk and blueliner Kira Makuk rounding out the scoring.

Red Deer fought off elimination on Friday’s Game 3 by holding on for a 4-3 win in Airdrie.

“Everyone came together and said it’s really important for us to win this game and we have to come out twice as hard as they did the day before on us,” said Snodgrass on the Game 4 triumph. “We did and it was just a really good team effort.

“Everyone was really excited once we won and we’re just really hoping finals go well.”

The best-of-five championship series gets underway when Edmonton hosts the first two games of the final this weekend. For full schedule information go to ammfhl-hockey.ca

rgreer@okotoks.greatwest.ca


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