Raiders go down swinging in league final

Hockey: Edmonton beats Highwood in four games for sixth straight title

By: Remy Greer

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Apr 02, 2014 06:00 am

Highwood Raider Gabrielle Seper battles with an Edmonton Thunder player during Game 3 of the Alberta Major Midget Female Hockey League finals, Friday at Scott Seaman Arena. The Thunder would win the series in four games to claim their sixth league title in a row.
Highwood Raider Gabrielle Seper battles with an Edmonton Thunder player during Game 3 of the Alberta Major Midget Female Hockey League finals, Friday at Scott Seaman Arena. The Thunder would win the series in four games to claim their sixth league title in a row.
Jordan Verlage/OWW

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There’s something to be said for championship pedigree.

The Edmonton Thunder showcased their moxie in locking up their sixth straight Alberta Major Midget Female Hockey League banner by doubling up the Highwood Raiders 6-3, Saturday at Scott Seaman Arena, to win the league final in four games.

“I thought the series was actually quite even, we didn’t get some of the breaks that they did, but that’s a championship team, they make their own breaks and they capitalize on them,” said Raiders head coach Jason Seper. “That was really the difference.”

Never more apparent than in the early stages of Game 4. The Raiders dominated proceedings and spent the opening period with Edmonton chasing the puck.

The Thunder patiently waited for opportunities on the rush and found themselves up 2-0 with a pair of goals in transition through Nicole Gorda and Kathryn Giorgi.

Quick second period tallies from Edmonton’s Alix Reiter and Alexandra Poznikoff put the visitors up 4-0, despite being handled by the Raiders 16-12 on the shot clock.

Highwood got some life when blueliner Kira Makuk’s point shot was deftly deflected in by Sarah Lecavalier. Sensing the ice tilting, Edmonton didn’t waste any time cancelling out Highwood’s marker with one of their own just 39 seconds later via Poznikoff.

The Raiders cut into the lead when Lecavalier picked up her second tally of the game on a re-direction, this time from Raiders captain Kaylin Snodgrass. Highwood would add another with the goalie-pulled as Hannah Olenyk banged in a rebound to cut the deficit to 5-3 with 90 seconds on the clock. Poznikoff put any dreams of a comeback on-ice as she buried a breakaway tally past Highwood’s Pippa Bagley for Edmonton’s sixth goal to cap its sixth consecutive league banner.

“They got a couple good breaks and I guess they deserved it more than we did,” said Bagley. “We came out and tried our hardest and it just didn’t work out our way.”

The Raiders fought off elimination with dogged determination the night prior, skating to a 7-6 victory in double-overtime on a game-winning marker from Tamala Whiteside in the opening minute of the fifth period.

“Both teams were pretty even and we battled really hard, especially (Friday) we faced a lot of adversity,” said Snodgrass. “It’s not what we wanted, but we won the South so we can be pretty proud of ourselves.

“This is as far as anyone has been for a really long time, we battled hard and took it to Game 4.”

Quite a legacy for the Raiders to live up to in the coming seasons.

“We had quite the year. I’m very proud of the girls and what they accomplished. You’ve got a proud coach here,” said Seper. “The legacy for the first and second years is set pretty high so it’s go out and accomplish more, that’s the challenge for those girls.”

“For the third years, to learn from this and do what it takes to get to something special.”

It will be an altered group flying the Raiders’ flag next season as the team loses eight players to graduation including Snodgrass, Bagley, Whiteside, Olenyk, and Cora Place.

“We’re losing a lot, but the Bantams coming up are really strong,” said Snodgrass, who’s off to the University of British Columbia in the fall. “I think their team will be really great next year and they could definitely take it all.”

For more information on the Highwood Raiders go to ooaaoilerhockey.com


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