Xtreme take first playoff series against Red Deer Rebels Black
It took three games, but the Airdrie Xtreme advanced to the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League (AMBHL) division semi-finals after defeating the Red Deer Rebels Black two games to one in the South quarterfinals.
The first game, Feb. 14, came down to the wire. With Airdrie winning 5-4, Red Deer scored to tie it with 26 seconds lefts, but just as it looked as if the game was heading to overtime, Xtreme forward Adam Tisdale scored his second of the game with 17 seconds left. Tisdale, along with Jordan McConnell, had a three-point game.
McConnell also had three assists in a losing effort in the series’ second game, which the Xtreme dropped 5-4, Feb. 15.
“We didn’t play as well as we could,” said Xtreme head coach Terry Keogh. “We were playing good defensively, but we weren’t taking our game to them.”
The team took control and rebounded in the third and deciding game Feb. 16, which Keogh called a character win. The team was without its two top scorers, McConnell and Andrew Fyten, and its top rookie scorer Gary Haden. Haden was hit from behind in the first game against Red Deer and was kept out of the rest of the series.
Fyten was injured after colliding with the net in the second game and was kept out of the third game as a precautionary measure and McConnell was ejected from the third game after committing three stick infractions.
All three are expected to be back for the semi-finals.
“To win without those three guys, it shows the depth and development we’ve been able to have and the heart and character of the other guys,” Keogh said.
“They stepped up and did what needed to be done.”
A highlight of the third game was the two goals by forward Brett Trentham, his second and third of the season. He scored his only goal earlier in the regular season. He may not be at the top of the leaderboard in terms of points, but both Keogh and Trentham’s linemate, Gary Haden, have praised him as one of the unsung heroes of the team.
“He likes to go to the dirty areas (of the ice),” Haden said. “He doesn’t get noticed for how many points he gets, but he does a lot of work to help (me and McConnell) out.”
“He has great work ethic,” Keogh added.
“He’s had some hard luck around the net, but he’s been a huge key of McConnell and Haden’s success. He hasn’t put up a lot of points, but from a work aspect he’s missed out on a lot of third assists for starting the play and a scoring opportunity in the opposition’s end. Defensively he’s probably, if not the most, disciplined.
“He allows Haden and McConnell to be more offensive.”
The Xtreme played the Lethbridge Golden Hawks in Game One of the AMBHL South division semi-finals Feb. 21, but the results were not available at press time.
Game Two will be played in Lethbridge, Feb. 23 and, if necessary, Game Three will be played in Airdrie Feb. 24 at the Ron Ebbesen Arena with puck drop at 1 p.m.
The Xtreme played Lethbridge three times in the regular season and ended the season series with a 1-1-1 record. Keogh said Airdrie will need to combat the Hawks’ physical presence.
“They have a good powerplay, so we need to stay disciplined,” Keogh said.
“We intend to use our speed and not give them those opportunities.”