Xtreme swept out of AMBHL third round by Bisons
When Calgary forward Braylon Shmyr scored the Bisons’ fifth goal of the game, Airdrie Xtreme captain Marshall Burr could only watch from the stands.
It proved to be the game-winning and series-clinching goal, as the Bisons beat Airdrie 6-4 in game three of its third-round Alberta Bantam Hockey League (AMBHL) playoff sweep, March 5 at the Max Bell Centre in Calgary.
“It’s the worst feeling in the world,” said Burr, whose recurring shoulder injury forced him out of action and will require surgery.
“Especially in playoffs, when you can’t do anything to help your team out. It doesn’t feel good, but nothing can be done. I told them to give it everything they had.”
“It was a big loss,” said Xtreme head coach Terry Keogh, adding that blueliner Adamu Tanaka was also out with a shoulder injury, thus limiting the defence corps.
“Marshall is our captain and our leader on and off the ice. And Adamu has developed extremely well this year, so it was two big holes to fill. You can feel the loss on the power play and on the penalty kill.”
Shmyr opened the scoring 3:54 into the game when he used a penalty-shot deke to beat Xtreme netminder Ryan Ternes. Airdrie took three straight minor penalties, but was able to capitalize shorthanded on the third of them, as Chad Harrison took a pass from Ryan Barrow on a two-on-one and used a low blocker-side shot to beat Bisons’ goalie Logan Thompson.
The teams traded early second-period goals before Calgary’s Brayden Brown completed a tic-tac-toe passing play and beat Ternes, putting the Bisons up 3-2 with 5:18 remaining in the middle frame.
“They’ve got a very powerful offence and because they’re so consistent, if you miss your assignment, they’re going to score on you,” Keogh said. “They scored some really nice goals on us when we missed some assignments.”
Airdrie responded with two quick goals, to take a 4-3 lead into the second intermission, as Barrow tipped in a point shot and Zach Giroux scored on an unassisted breakaway after stripping Bisons’ defenceman Bradley Forrest of the puck.
Keogh said his message going into the third was to stay focused and not to make any mental mistakes.
“We told them to stay disciplined and not get over excited and keep doing what we’re doing,” he said. “Our play tonight showed that we weren’t giving up.”
Brown scored his second of the game for Calgary 3:41 into the third and Shmyr put the Bisons ahead for good on a wrist shot over Ternes’ blocker less than four minutes later.
Nick Merkley added a late insurance marker.
Keogh said his team was upset, but that he was happy about how they responded after dropping the first two games, 3-2 in Calgary on Feb. 29 and 6-2 in Airdrie on March 3, and how they faced elimination.
“We used a bit of history to talk to the boys. We had a similar situation in ’09, when we won the Westerns, where we went down two games to the Royals and came back. We told them, not only is it possible, it’s been done by guys that have worn those jerseys,” he said.
“Nothing you can say really makes them feel any better right now, but you tell them that when they reflect back, to also remember what you accomplished. We made it to the final four in what is considered one of the top development leagues in North America, so that is something to be proud of.”
Although the Xtreme’s quest for an Alberta Bantam title is over, the team will still keep playing. It has accepted an invitation to the 44th annual Kamloops international Bantam Ice Hockey Tournament beginning April 4.
“We’ll practice, but not as intensely as we had been. For our second-year players, they also have Alberta Cup tryouts coming,” Keogh said.
“As an organization, regardless of whether we have hockey left or not, we keep them ready, so they have their best chance. There will still be a lot of hockey for these guys between now and Kamloops.”