By RYAN MCCRACKEN on March 15, 2019.
The Medicine Hat Hounds pushed the Red Deer Chiefs to the brink of elimination in dominant fashion on Thursday night at the Kinplex.
Levi Schlosser scored 16 seconds into Game 1 of the South Central Alberta Hockey League’s midget AA final to set the tone for an eventual 4-1 victory and leave the Hounds within reach of both a league title and a provincial berth when the best-of-three series shifts to Red Deer Saturday.
“I think we realized as a team that we had a chance to win right away,” said Schlosser. “I know all the boys in the room want it, and just to see it actually come true, it would be amazing.”
Hounds head coach Randy Wong says his squad made a few minor changes in its approach to the forecheck after doing some research on Red Deer, and it paid off in a matter of seconds.
“That first shift was awesome,” said Wong. “We had a game plan going in and I think we established that right from the opening draw. We changed our forecheck a little bit to counter some things we had heard about them and Schlosser picked the puck up off the boards and took it to the net. That was part of our game plan, so it’s nice when you put a plan in place and all of the sudden you get rewarded.”
While Red Deer’s Kodan Smallboy knotted the game up near the halfway point of the first period, the Hounds snapped back with goals from Conner Miller and Zachary Dovichak to carry some insurance into the second.
Medicine Hat’s defence came ready for the task, limiting the Chiefs to just three shots in the opening period.
“We’ve been stingy all year,” said Wong. “We’ve held teams to 20 shots quite a few times this year. Our back end is strong, our goaltender (Teron Funk) is strong. So we’ve got confidence that we’re going to get pucks out, and when we don’t Teron is going to be there for us.”
The shot-for-goal trend continued in the second when Red Deer upped its shot count to four and Hounds forward Austin Klimosko quickly replied with his team’s fourth goal at the other end.
The Chiefs finally managed to string together some shots in succession a few minutes later, but they were unable to put another one past Funk on five chances in the period.
Red Deer brought a much stronger effort to the ice in the third – this time putting 12 shots on Funk – but they couldn’t generate anything to show for it and settled for the loss as a result.
“All the boys were playing hard on defence and helping out Teron, our goalie, as much as possible,” said Schlosser. “That was huge for us.”
Funk finished with a 19-save victory. Red Deer’s Zaiden Hansen stopped 32 shots in the loss.
The Hounds can close out the series – and with it earn a trip to provincials – Saturday in Red Deer at 4:45 p.m. If necessary, Game 3 will go Sunday at 6:45 p.m. in the Kinplex.
“We knew that we had a high number of 17-year-olds this year, so this is their year,” said Wong. “It’s their last year in minor hockey. This group hasn’t had the success over the years, so in their last year, for it to all come together, it’s been outstanding. It’s been awesome to watch these guys. They want it so bloody bad.”
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