Airdrie trio on to division finals with CFR Chemical Bisons
Thursday, Mar 09, 2017 06:00 am
An Airdrie trio is on to the third round of the Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League (AMHL) post-season with the CFR Chemical Bisons.
The Bisons needed four games to knock the Calgary Flames out of the AMHL Chrysler Division semifinals but the series was tighter than it appeared, with the Bisons winning a pair in overtime including the series-ending game March 6.
“It seems like we found that demeanor where we stay calm, go to work and are comfortable (in tight games),” head coach Sandy Henry said.
Despite coming into the series with the regular season edge over the Flames, the Bisons found itself in a battle early on in the series, winning the first two games by just a single goal.
The team dropped Game 3 at home to the Flames March 5 going down 3-0 early in the game and never coming closer than two goals in the 3-1 loss.
The Bisons were able to knock off its opponent the next night, but needed overtime for the second time in three games to finally put an end to the Flames season with a 5-4 victory at Father David Bauer Arena in Calgary.
First-year Bison Brandon Machado enjoyed a strong series for his team, including a four-point effort in Game 2 where he scored the overtime-winner. He set up the series-clinching goal in Game 4 once again in overtime.
“He’s turned into a real reliable, accountable, 200-foot guy,” Henry said. “We use him on the powerplay, five-on-five and on the penalty kill. He’s really rounded his game out this year.
“You know when you put him out, you’re going to get both ends looked after and he’s going to give you a chance offensively, but at the same time he’s going to be accountable on our side of centre ice.”
In four playoff games, Machado leads all Bison players in points with six (2g, 4a). Henry said the forward’s style of play benefits from the atmosphere of playoff hockey.
Fellow first-year Cayde Augustine has appeared in all four games for the Bisons and has helped the team on the backend through its first series against the Flames.
Airdrie’s third representative on the Bisons’ roster, Tyler Petrie, didn’t appear in the semifinal series, but finished his regular season with 28 points (13g, 15a) in 31 games. Petrie has been recovering from a lower-body injury sustained near the end of the regular season.
Henry said the team is hoping to get the 17-year-old back into the lineup soon, especially as it prepares for its opponents in the division finals, the Calgary Buffaloes.
“He’s a mature, good-sized guy that skates well and understands the team’s concepts,” he said. “He’s been (to the finals) before and knows what to expect...He’s got a lot of stuff that we could definitely be using if we get him back in.”
Although the Bisons were successful in knocking off the Flames, Henry said the team still has some work to do in preparation for the division finals. One issue he said the team needed to work on is better starts against its opponent.
In the series with the Flames, the Bisons gave up nine first period goals out of a total of 16 in four playoff games. The Bisons scored just two first period goals in that series.
“We’ve got to get over being slow out of the gate,” Henry said. “We’ve got to cut (first period goals) down, get that down to one or none...Then we know we’re playing into our game.”
He also mentioned the team’s total goals against had to come down, especially heading into a series with the high-scoring Buffaloes.
“You don’t want to have a four or five goals against average in the playoffs,” Henry said. “It’s a hard way to win, to expect to score four or five goals every night.
The Bisons look to be the underdogs going into the finals against the Buffaloes, a team that it lost both its regular season games to in the 2016-17 campaign, including a 5-2 loss Feb. 1.
The Buffaloes took first place in the Chrysler Division with 54 points, just one point a head of the Bisons to secure home ice advantage.
The Bisons kick off its third round against the Buffaloes March 10.