It was a tournament Chestermere’s Keystone Raiders would like to forget. The Raiders finished seventh at the Sutter Cup Championship, March 12-14.
The AAA Minor Midget Club tied the CBHA Blackhawks 2-2 in its opening game, lost a heart breaker to NWCAA Stampeders 4-2 and defeated the Red Deer Northstar Chiefs 6-0 in its final round robin game, but didn’t have enough points to advance to the playoff round. One of the biggest problems this year for the Raiders has been goal scoring, especially in key games, said head coach Sean Finn. "We averaged 37 shots a game this season and scored under four goals a game," said Finn. We hit a lot of goalies chests and sticks. It was just the way it went. Our break away percentage was 25 per cent. At the same time, we were one of the best defensive teams in the history of the league." The Raiders leading scorer Sam Johnson, Zach Wittenburg, Alex Bechtold and Owen Ferguson, all had two points in the tournament. The Raiders finished first in the AMMBHL’s southern conference, during the regular season. The A/C Avalanche finished third and CBHA Rangers, that won the tournament championship, finished fourth. Finn said it is not the proper way to run a tournament playoff. "A team that was fifth place in our division, put together a couple of strong games at the right time and all of a sudden they are the league champion. In the end, it doesn’t show your consistency throughout the season," said Finn. With a team that draws most of its players from the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League’s Okotoks Oilers, Finn is not looking forward to next season, especially since Okotoks did not win a game its entire season. This year, the team also had players from Strathmore, Dewinton, Langdon, Chestermere, High River, Blackie and Nanton. "We can only work with whatever there is. The hope is to find a bunch of goal scorers, but it is just that, a hope," said Finn. "This year, we had a lot of pleasant surprises from some players and others who didn’t live up to our expectations," said Finn. He hopes for better luck when his team competes in the Alberta Cup tournament in Leduc, April 25-27.