Raiders claim third straight banner
Hockey: Rocky Mountain wins Bantam AAA title in two-game sweep
Wednesday, Apr 02, 2014 06:00 am
The Rocky Mountain Bantam AAA Raiders’ dynastic ways have reached a fever pitch.
Captain Taylor Sawka’s powerplay marker with 79 seconds on the clock lifted the Raiders to a 3-2 victory, Saturday at Pason Centennial Arena, to complete the two-game sweep of the St. Albert Raiders and lock up Rocky Mountain’s third consecutive league banner.
“I was just hoping Taylor would get it in. It was unbelievable, I didn’t even know what was happening,” said Raiders alternate captain Breanne Trotter, who got an assist on the series winner. “That was really special.”
The jubilation on the ice took a few seconds to register to the Rocky Mountain bench as Sawka’s powerplay tally just barely snuck through St. Albert’s Clark Hannah.
“We didn’t really know that she scored (on the bench),” said Raiders alternate captain Halle Bodnarchuk, from Okotoks. “She kind of just stopped and then when she started cheering we all lit up.”
A thrilling finish to a seesaw Game 2 of the best-of-three Alberta Major Bantam Female Hockey League championship series.
Rocky Mountain carried a 2-1 advantage into the final frame on markers from Hailey McCallum and Okotoks’ Trotter, but the pesky St. Albert club had a surprise in store for the two-time defending league champions in the third period.
Despite being heavily out-shot, St. Albert evened the score at 2-2 on a powerplay goal from Borie Grace with less than seven minutes remaining.
Rather than panic at the prospects of victory slipping away, the Raiders patiently waited for their chance to strike and when their own powerplay opportunity arose they took full advantage.
“Throughout the year our coach (Jordan Fenton) always told us to stay positive no matter what,” Bodnarchuk said. “If we would have had another coach, we would have thought we might not win here.”
The Raiders took Game 1 by a 5-1 count in Cochrane on Friday. Rocky Mountain scored four in the third period to turn the 1-1 deadlock into a mild blowout.
Trotter registered the game-winner in a four-point performance from the winger.
Rocky Mountain went a perfect 6-0 in the playoffs, executing two-game sweeps over the Calgary Outlaws, Red Deer Chiefs and St. Albert Raiders. It’s the third year in a row the Raiders have posted undefeated records in the postseason, though the latest bid was decidedly more hard-fought for the veterans of the Raiders.
“This was a lot closer game so it was even better to win it that way,” said Raiders blueliner Janae Ramsay, from Okotoks. “And just the anticipation, I was a lot more pumped to play today than last time.
“St. Albert shocked everybody by winning against the two top teams in the North so we all knew it was going to be tough to play against them and we came through it.”
As the veteran core of the Raiders age up to the Midget level, the winning tradition for the Bantam Raiders is now fully etched in stone with the trio of banners now in the rafters.
“For the team next year it puts a lot of pressure on them to win for the fourth time,” Ramsay said. “For us (graduating) we want to keep it going.”