Xtreme drop season opener
The opening game of the 2013/14 Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League (AMBHL) season was not what the Airdrie Xtreme had in mind, as it dropped a 7-3 decision to the Calgary Northwest Flames at the Ron Ebbesen Arena on Sept. 14.
Despite the setback, Xtreme Head Coach Josh Zimmer was quick to point out there was a long way to go until the end of the season for the team.
“We know that we are not going to win a league championship in September,” Zimmer said.
“Right now, we are just building on our positives and addressing some of our issues, so that come playoff time, we are in fine shape.”
Zimmer also said the effort from the players was a lot better than that during the Xtreme’s previous meeting with the Northwest Flames, as it dropped an 8-0 decision in the finals of a pre-season tournament in Calgary on Sept. 8.
“We took the entire game off in Calgary, but we came out a lot better here in Airdrie,” Zimmer said.
“The guys just fed off of the energy of the crowd, and we were able to come into the dressing room with the score tied at one.”
Brent Trentham’s goal in the first frame gave the Xtreme some momentum as the team headed out to the ice for the second period, though things quickly went south after a scoring chance was denied by Flames netminder Luke Eamon.
“They were able to come right back down and score, and we just took 15 minutes off after that,” Zimmer said.
“The kids are going to have to learn to battle through adversity, and they can’t let the fort cave in when we go down a goal.”
After allowing three goals in the first half of the second period, Xtreme starting netminder Justin Fedoruk was pulled in favour of Ben Laidlaw, as the hosts tried to turn around a 4-1 deficit.
Instead, the Flames scored three more goals in the span of eight minutes to take a 7-1 lead, which led to Fedoruk going back in between the pipes for the rest of the game.
“The plan was to put Justin back into the net after we pulled him, as we just wanted to give him a couple of minutes to calm down and get his composure back,” Zimmer said.
“We obviously didn’t foresee them scoring three quick goals though.”
Gary Haden and Cody Gibson scored a pair of quick goals late in the second period to cut the Xtreme’s deficit to four, which set the stage for a final period where the home side generated a ton of chances.
“It was good to see our guys compete like that, as it could have been easy for them to just fold up their tents and think that the game was out of reach,” Zimmer said.
“They played for pride and they made it really interesting, as they were just a bounce or two away from making it a much closer game.”
The Xtreme will aim to get its first win of the AMBHL season this weekend, as it will take to the ice for a pair of games.
The first of those two contests will take place on Sept. 21 at 7:15 p.m., when the Rocky Mountain Raiders from Okotoks will pay a visit to the Ron Ebbesen Arena.
On Sept. 22, the Airdrie Xtreme will travel to Red Deer for a 1:15 p.m. clash with the White Rebels at the Red Deer Arena.