Xtreme end weekend with a road win
Split weekend series are becoming a trend for the Airdrie Xtreme.
However, according to Head Coach Terry Keogh, if the team wants to be successful this season, it has to start winning back-to-back games.
The Xtreme lost its first home game of the weekend 5-1 to the Calgary Northstars, Oct. 20, but followed it up with a 5-3 road victory over the Fort Saskatchewan Rangers, Oct. 21.
Keogh said the game against Calgary was one the Xtreme should have and could have won.
“We certainly did not play to the level that we can play to,” he said. “That should have been a win for us if we would’ve played the way we’re capable of. When we’ve worked to the best of our ability and when we’ve done everything we can, (a loss) is acceptable. When we’re not working, it’s not acceptable.
“Last year, most of these kids could go out on any given night, play 75 to 80 per cent and still be the best player on the ice. Here, they can’t do that. It’s getting better and it has to continue to get better.”
The win against Fort Saskatchewan was the team’s third of the season, it’s second on the road, and it highlighted one of the Xtreme’s strengths: it’s special teams. Gary Haden scored two shorthanded goals while Brandon Schuldhaus added a powerplay tally. Out of the 28 goals the team has scored this year, eight have come on the man advantage. It’s something the team has been working on in practise and Keogh said it’s paying off.
“It’s a big difference between 5-on-4 and 5-on-3,” he said. “Part of the development is getting them to understand when to move the puck and the bodies. It’s not so much about specific systems, it’s about teaching them to react to the opposition and when that lane opens up, to put a player and a puck into it.”
Along with rolling special teams, the Xtreme are finding success on the road, capturing two wins out of four away games in the first two months of the season. If that trend continues, November should be good for the team, as it plays three of four games on the road next month.
The team’s next home games will be Oct. 27 and Oct. 28 against the Calgary Bantam AAA Flames and the Camrose Vikings. Both contests will be at the Ron Ebbesen Arena with the Flames game starting at 7:15 p.m. and the Vikings game starting at 1 p.m.