Xtreme finish second in pre-season tournament
The Airdrie Xtreme Bantam ‘AAA’ hockey team nearly had the picture-perfect start to its 2013/14 season on Sept. 8 in Calgary.
After upsetting the top-seeded Calgary Southeast Bisons in the semi-finals earlier in the day, the fourth ranked Xtreme were shutout 7-0 by the second-seeded Calgary Northwest Flames in the championship game of a pre-season tournament at the East Calgary Twin Arenas.
However, the final result failed to dampen the overall aim of the tournament for Xtreme Head Coach Josh Zimmer.
“At this point, we aren’t overly concerned with the final results, as we used this weekend more as an evaluation tool for our coaching staff,” he said. “I was very pleased with what we saw during the tournament and the guys did a lot of good things that we can build on.”
Zimmer and his coaching staff also used the pre-season tournament to finalize the team’s roster, as they selected the 19 players that will wear the Xtreme uniform this season.
“We had 28 guys left on our team after training camp (which concluded on Sept. 2) and we made a few cuts during the lead up to the tournament,” he said. “We made our final cuts right after the tournament finished, and that was really tough as there were some kids that really stepped up their play.”
One of the things that Zimmer hopes the Xtreme players will remember from the loss in the finals is to never take a game off, which is what he feels happened during the championship contest.
“I think they found out just how good everyone is at this level when you take a night off,” he said. “It’s something that we talked about afterwards and I think the guys will learn from that as they go forward.”
Before the loss in the finals, the Xtreme came away with an impressive 5-4 victory in the semi-finals over the Bisons on Sept. 8, which had entered the playoffs without a loss.
“The Bisons are a great program and to have a win over them is a huge feather in our cap as we move forward,” Zimmer said. “We scored three times on the power-play against them, and that is something that we were really happy about.”
The round-robin portion of the tournament was a tough one for the Xtreme, as it lost all three of its games.
After losing a tight 3-2 contest to the Flames on Sept. 6, the Xtreme came out on the wrong end of a high scoring 9-5 thriller with the Bisons on Sept. 7.
A 5-2 setback to the Rocky Mountain Raiders from Okotoks later in the day on Sept. 7 left the Xtreme at the bottom of the four-team field heading into the playoffs.
Despite the losses, the level of competition on the ice was something Zimmer said he noticed in all three games.
“We want to be a team that is very hard to play against and the guys gave it their all in those games,” he said. “We want to see that same kind of effort from them now as we move forward.”
The Xtreme will begin its 2013/14 Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League (AMBHL) season at the Rob Ebbesen Arena in Airdrie on Sept. 14, when it will take on the Calgary Northwest Flames at 7:15 p.m.
“I know the guys are really excited about getting the season started,” Zimmer said.