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Xtreme knocked out of playoffs in first round

By: Lucas Punkari

  |  Posted: Thursday, Feb 20, 2014 06:00 am

In the middle of a scramble in front of the net, Airdrie Xtreme forward Gary Haden tried to bat the puck past Red Deer Rebels White goalie Dawson Weatherill in Game 2 of the AMBHL divisional semi-final series between the two teams.
In the middle of a scramble in front of the net, Airdrie Xtreme forward Gary Haden tried to bat the puck past Red Deer Rebels White goalie Dawson Weatherill in Game 2 of the AMBHL divisional semi-final series between the two teams.
Lucas Punkari/Rocky View Publishing

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The 2013/14 Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League season ended far earlier than the Airdrie Xtreme had planned.

The Xtreme were knocked out of the AMBHL playoffs at the Ron Ebbesen Arena on Feb. 15 following a 2-1 loss to the Red Deer Rebels White, which gave the Rebels a 2-0 series victory in the Ram South division semi-finals.

“It was a tight series, but I think it came down to who wanted it more,” Xtreme forward Dylan Rieberer said. “We were able to create a lot of traffic in front of their net, but we did give up some odd-man rushes that allowed them to have some good scoring chances.”

In Red Deer on Feb. 13, the Xtreme dropped the opening game of the series by a score of 4-2 in Red Deer, despite goals from team captain Brett Trentham and defenseman Taylor Fawns.

In the second game of the series in Airdrie on Feb. 15, Gary Haden scored on an end-to-end rush to put the Xtreme within one goal midway through the second period, but a game-tying goal proved to be elusive.

“The two games were fairly similar,” Xtreme Head Coach Josh Zimmer said. “We were skating pretty well and forcing them to take a lot of penalties, but we just couldn’t capitalize on our chances.”

“You have to give a lot of credit to Red Deer,” he added. “They played a strong playoff style of hockey that made it hard to generate quality scoring chances, and their goalie (Dawson Weatherill) made the big saves when he was called upon.”

When asked what was the key to his team’s playoff triumph over the Xtreme, Rebels White Head Coach Mick Kartusch said the main game plan was to try and limit the scoring chances of the Xtreme’s leading scorers, Haden and Trenham.

“They do a lot of damage out there, and while you are never going to completely shut them down, we wanted to prevent them from having a lot of opportunities,” he said. “We were able to contain them during the series, and we are pretty happy about being able to hold a high-powered offense to just three goals in two games.”

Despite the early exit, Rieberer believes he and the rest of the graduating players from this year’s Xtreme team can take some valuable lessons from this experience as they move forward in their hockey careers.

“A lot of us will be playing for the AC Avalanche (in the Alberta Minor Midget Hockey League) next year, and we already have a strong bond being teammates with one another,” he said. “I think we can build on that chemistry next season and go even farther, as we don’t want to have our season end early once again.

Of the 19 players that made up this year’s Xtreme roster, three members (defenseman Jacob Bernard-Docker, and forwards Cole Reinhardt and Brandon Machado) are eligible to return as 2000 birth year players.

When it comes to behind the bench, however, Zimmer has yet to make a decision as to whether or not he will be returning for a second season with the Xtreme.

“I have a young family at home, so it has been a challenging year in being away from them,” he said.

“I will have some things to consider there before I make a final decision, as things are still pretty fresh right now with the season coming to an end.”


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