Heartbreaking losses are an equal opportunity thing. There is no bias, if you lose a big game in a big tournament it still hurts regardless of gender.
The Highwood Raiders were knocked out Mac’s Midget girls hockey tournament after losing 2-1 to the Fraser Valley Phantoms on Dec. 29 at the Max Bell Arena in Calgary. The Phantoms’ game-winner came on a powerplay goal with 14 seconds left in regulation game.
Meanwhile, the Foothills UFA Bisons were eliminated from the boys’ side of the tournament when they were beaten by the eventual champion Edmonton SSAC BP Athletics 4-3 in the quarterfinals on Dec. 31 at Father David Bauer Arena in Calgary.
The loss left a bittersweet taste for one Okotoks resident.
“It was no fun to lose, but the Mac’s was so fun,” said Bison forward Sam Johnson.
Johnson said what was frustrating about losing to Edmonton was the fact the Bisons had beaten the Athletics in two previous games in Alberta Major Midget Hockey League play prior to the Mac’s.
He said the Bisons allowed the Athletics to get under the Foothills players’ collective skin.
“We took a lot of penalties and they took advantage,” said Johnson, a Grade 11 student at Foothills Composite High School. “We made a few mistakes and they had some great goaltending.”
Johnson said the Bisons played well at the Mac’s but they took a period off now and then, which cost them.
“We could have done better,” he said. “We had to play the full 60 minutes of every game and we took a period off or two.”
The Bisons finished with a 2-2 record in round-robin play, just good enough to grab a wild-card spot and a berth in the quarterfinals.
Johnson had two goals and an assist in the Bisons’ opening 6-1 victory over the Valley West Hawks from B.C. on Boxing Day at Father David Bauer Arena. However, he was kept off the scoresheet in the Bisons’ next two games, a 6-2 loss to the Winnipeg Wild on Dec. 27 and then a 6-2 victory over the Red Deer Optimist Rebels on Dec. 28.
“I thought I had a good start to the Mac’s and then I didn’t play as well as I could,” Johnson said. “I was able to pick it up against the (Prince Albert) Mintos.”
Johnson scored the game-winner and also picked up an assist in the Bisons’ 4-2 victory over the Mintos on Dec. 30 in the Bisons’ final round-robin game.
Okotoks resident Josh Betinol had an assist in the Bisons’ loss to Edmonton in the quarterfinals.
He agreed with Johnson it was a game the Bisons could have won if they had played up to their potential.
He said one of the highlights for him was playing in the tournament’s featured game at the Max Bell Arena on Dec. 27.
“It was exciting to play in front of those fans,” Betinol said. “It would have been better if we had won.”
The Bisons were beaten by Winnipeg in the feature game.
Johnson said the Bisons have to learn from the Mac’s experience by playing a full three periods every game in future Alberta Major Midget Hockey League contests.
The Bisons are 13-6-4 and in third place in the Chrysler Division of the league.
An Okotoks resident isn’t about to forget what it is like to be knocked out of a major tournament in the dying seconds of a game.
The Highwood Raiders were eliminated from the Mac’s after losing to the Fraser Valley Phantom 2-1 on a powerplay goal with 14 ticks left.
“It was just crushing, I have never felt anything like that when playing hockey,” said the Raiders’ Giovanna Zanoni, a Grade 12 student at Holy Trinity Academy. “We needed to win that game to have a chance to get into the playoffs.”
The Raiders finished third in their pool with a 2-2 record. If they had beaten the Phantom, the Raiders’ 3-1 record may have been good enough to earn a wild card spot into the playoffs.
Zanoni finished the tournament with a goal and two assists.
“I was nervous at the start of the tournament but once I hit the ice it went away,” she said. “It was so exciting because it (the Mac’s) was a brand new experience for me.”
She said the disappointment came from the Raiders’ two losses. Zanoni felt if the team would have played up to their potential, they could have won both games.
The Raiders opened the tourney by losing to the Edmonton Thunder 3-1 on Boxing Day.
They then downed the Calgary Flyers 3-1 on Dec. 27. The Raiders improved their record to 2-1 by beating the Melville Prairie Fire 6-3 and Zanoni had a goal and an assist in the win.
The Raiders were then knocked out of the tournament when they lost to the Phantom. The Phantom hadn’t won a game at the Mac’s until they met the Raiders.
“It was really disappointing,” said the Raiders’ Jillian Barvir. “We might have been overconfident, because we didn’t think we could lose.”
The 14-year-old Barvir said playing in the Mac’s will help her in the future.
“Now I know what it will take if we can get to the Mac’s next year,” said the Grade 9 student at John Paul II Collegiate.
Zanoni won’t have the opportunity to play in another Mac’s because her Midget career will be over at the end of the season.
“I’m hoping our experience this year will help them in the future and they will be able to play much better,” she said.
Raiders goalie Jenni Schmidt, a MD of Foothills resident, was named the team’s game star in its first two games.
Bailey McLellan, a Grade 10 student at Foothills Composite High School, was called up to play as an affiliate for the Raiders at the Mac’s and she dressed for two games. Kaylin Snodgrass, who lives in the MD of Foothills, also played two games as a Raider affiliate.
The Raiders Kenzie Menzak, a student at Holy Trinity Academy, had one goal in the tournament.
The Raiders are in third place in the Alberta Major Midget Female Hockey League with a 13-6-5 record.