To say the Rocky Mountain Raiders are running away from the pack would be a massive understatement.
Rocky Mountain (20-4-2) extended its winning streak to 10 games in the Alberta Female Hockey League Midget AAA Division a run which has the Mac’s Midget Tournament champions not tasting defeat in a more than two-month span.
“Having done this for a number of years it really takes three or four months when you get a new group of girls together,” head coach Paul Pozzi said of the magical run. “Even though we do have a lot of returning players we still do have 11 new players and it takes that amount time to really start to gel.”
In league play, the Raiders last suffered a defeat on Nov. 25 to the Lloydminster Steelers.
They’ve since won 10 league games with a Mac’s Midget championship and Mandi Schwartz Tournament silver sandwiched in between.
The silver came as a result of a loss to Lloydminster.
“We lost a real heartbreaker at the Mandi Schwartz tournament and I think that really was a kick in the pants for the girls,” Pozzi said. “They also realized at the same time that they know how good they are, they’re a good team, but you’ve still got to work at it.
“All of those things are coming together and they’re determined.”
Reflecting the uptick in performance the Raiders walloped those same Steelers by an 8-0 count Sunday at the Scott Seaman Sports Rink to extend the streak to 10 games.
Gabriella Durante made 17 saves for her second straight shutout. League-leading scorer Nicole Fry led the way with a hat-trick and two assists, Chloe Puddifant added a goal and three assists with Isabella Pozzi, Kate Lewis, Athena Hauck and captain Breanne Trotter adding the other markers.
“We’ve put a lot of emphasis on discipline and it’s obvious we were the disciplined team out there,” the coach added. “Almost every time they take a penalty we made them pay.”
The Raiders opened the weekend with a comeback 5-2 thrashing of Edmonton.
The Pandas built a 2-0 lead in the first period only to have Rocky Mountain surge back with five unanswered tallies over the final 40 minutes. Fry led the way with two goals with Trotter as well as rookie forward Mallory Dyer and Kaia Borbandy adding the other markers.
Scoring has been a big factor for Rocky Mountain. The Raiders have a league best 94 goals, 27 higher than anyone else in the six-team provincial loop, and boast the league’s top three scorers in Fry, Trotter and Puddifant.
With just four games left in the regular season, the Raiders are zeroing in on a top-seed finish. Following three straight road dates the Raiders wrap up the season on home ice in a March 3 battle with the Steelers.
The Raiders need just five points from their final four games to clinch first and a bye through the first round of the playoffs in the lead-up to provincials – held this year in Red Deer.
“We want to finish first, we want to have the bye and get some rest,” Pozzi said. “To get some good practice in.”
Six members of the Rocky Mountain Raiders got a chance to showcase their skills on Saturday.
The Alberta Female Hockey League held its Prospects Game in both Midget and Bantam Elite at NAIT in Edmonton.
Representing the Midget Elite Raiders on the ice for Team South were forwards Brooke Palin, Lindsay Aitken and blueliner Kas Kingston. Rocky Mountain forwards Brooklyn LeDuc, Jordyn Matthews and rearguard Abbey Borbandy suited up for Team South in the Bantam Elite contest.
Team South won by a 4-3 score in the Bantam Elite game while Team North got their revenge in a 3-2 triumph in Midget Elite.