Xtreme ready for playoffs
By: Lucas Punkari
| Posted: Thursday, Feb 13, 2014 11:33 am
The Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League (AMBHL) regular season is a thing of the past for the Airdrie Xtreme.
The team’s focus now is on the playoffs, as it will begin a best-of-three Ram South Division semi-final series with the Red Deer White Rebels on Feb. 13 at the Red Deer Arena in a 7 p.m. contest.
“It’s a cliché to say, but we have to forget about everything that has happened up until this point, as this is a new season,” Xtreme Head Coach Josh Zimmer said.
“Everybody’s got a clean slate and a fresh start, and hopefully we come out with the energy to win in Red Deer on Thursday (Feb. 13) to start off the series and then finish things up at home on Saturday (Feb. 15),” he added.
The second game of the series will be held at the Ron Ebbesen Arena at 7 p.m., while a third contest (if necessary) will take place at the Red Deer Arena on Feb. 16 at 12 p.m.
The Xtreme, which finished in third place in the Ram South standings with a 15-15-3 record, faced off against the White Rebels three times in the AMBHL regular season and had a 1-2 record against its playoff opponent.
Its lone victory over the team came on Oct. 27 when the Xtreme picked up a 4-1 win at the Ron Ebbesen Arena in Airdrie.
“The Red Deer team is a very similar one to us,” Zimmer said.
“They have two very good goalies (Duncan Hughes and Dawson Weatherill), so we will need to get a lot of pucks and bodies to the net in order to make it difficult for their goalies to see the puck.”
“We will also need to use our speed to force their defence to make quick decisions that will lead to turnovers that we can capitalize on,” he added.
“This is going to be a tight series, and I expect that this will end up going all three games.”
The winner of the best-of-three affair will advance to the Ram South division finals, where either the Red Deer Black Rebels or the Rocky Mountain Raiders of Okotoks will be awaiting.
That best-of-three series will take place during a yet-to-be-determined time span from Feb. 18 to Feb. 23.
The Xtreme is heading into the playoffs on a losing note, however, as it has lost its last three games.
After dropping a 4-3 decision to the PAC (Parkland Athletic Club) Saints from Spruce Grove in Airdrie on Feb. 2, the Xtreme fell 5-1 to the Lloydminster Heat on Feb. 8 in Lloydminster, and rounded out the regular season with a 7-5 road loss to the Leduc Oil Kings on Feb. 9.
“We wanted to end our regular season on a positive note, so we were a little disappointed in our effort,” Zimmer said.
“I think we sometimes give teams too much respect and that is what happened in Lloydminster, which was a game that I think we could have won.”
“We were just flat in the first two periods against Leduc and we were down 5-1 as a result of that,” he added.
“We came back to tie it at five before they got two goals late, but we should never have been in that situation.”