The St. Albert Raiders skated into the playoff round at the 35th annual Mac’s Midget AAA World Invitational Tournament in Calgary after a first-place finish in pool play.
Monday afternoon the Raiders played the 2-1-1 Saskatoon Contacts in quarter-final action. The winner challenged the 3-1 Greater Vancouver Canadians or the 2-1-1 Carolina Jr. Hurricanes in the semifinals Monday night. The final was Tuesday. Playoff scores were unavailable at press time.
The first-place teams in the five pools and three wild cards in the 25-team draw made the playoffs.
Last year the Raiders finished 5-1 as semifinalists. The last St. Albert team to reach the final was the 1990 Eagle Raiders.
The last game for the Raiders before the playoffs was Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the Canadians. The result left both teams tied for top spot in pool three, but the Raiders were awarded first place with a better goals for-against margin.
Zack Gonek and Sebastian Auray put the Raiders up 2-0 in the first period. The Canadians scored before the period ended and added two more goals in the middle frame before Matteo Gennaro made it 3-3 on the power play with 1:27 to go in the second. The Canadians scored the game winner with 3:15 left to play.
Shots were 39-21 for the Raiders. In net was Pat Gora.
Going into the game the Raiders had posted consecutive shutouts of 3-0 against the Saskatoon Blazers and 7-0 against the Battlefords Stars. Gora turned aside 29 shots against the Blazers and Mitch Martell was tested 26 times by the Stars.
Matt Maetche, Kyler Hehn and Brett Smythe lit the lamp and Gonek had two assists against the 2-2 Blazers.
Gennaro and Auray sniped a pair apiece and captain Tyler Mrkonjic had three assists against the 2-2 Stars. Hehn, Gonek and Mike Cardinal also scored.
In the tournament opener, Jason Miller netted the winner with 4:45 remaining, as the Raiders edged the 0-4 Calgary Buffaloes 3-2.
Gonek and Hehn also connected and Martell made 22 saves for the No. 1 team in the Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League.
The Raiders (16-5-4) resume league play this weekend against the Lloydminster Bobcats (11-6-7) Saturday and Grande Prairie Storm (5-12-5) Sunday. Game times are 1:30 p.m. at Akinsdale Arena.
The St. Albert Slash finished the ninth annual Mac’s midget AAA female tournament out of the playoff round with a 1-1-2 record in pool play.
The last game for the Slash was Saturday’s 5-5 draw with the Highwood Raiders.
Kate Lumley’s goal with 26 seconds remaining salvaged a point for the Slash, the third-place finishers in pool seven behind the 3-0-1 Saskatoon Stars and the 3-1 Fraser Valley Phantom.
The first-place teams in the three pools and one wild card in the 15-team draw made the playoffs
Last year the Slash finished 3-1-1 as semifinalists.
The Slash opened the scoring against the 1-2-1 Raiders with two goals by Delaney Martin on assists from Charity Price and Rebecca Wall. The Raiders replied with a pair to end the period and struck twice in the second. After Martin’s hat-trick marker with 11:55 to play, the teams swapped power-play tallies. Jessica Dyck made it a one-goal game with five minutes to go.
Price and Wall finished with three assists apiece and Dyck and Lumley had two points each.
The Slash outshot the Raiders 32-14. In net was Kaelin Klim.
The Slash (11-9-3) and Raiders (7-7-8) are third in their respective divisions in the Alberta Major Midget Female Hockey League.
The Sash started the tournament with a come-from-behind 3-3 tie against Saskatoon. Price’s second goal of the game with 5:24 to play capped off a third-period rally.
Shots were 30-15 for the Slash and Klim was in net.
The next game was the 2-1 loss to Fraser Valley. Deanna Morin’s power-play goal early in the third cut the lead in half. The shot count was 29-27 for the Slash. Klim was between the pipes.
The lone Slash win was 7-2 against the 0-4 Prince George Cougars in a penalty-marred affair. Slash netminder Andrea Dombowsky stopped 31 shots.
The Slash were minus their second-leading scorer at the Mac’s, two-time U18 Team Alberta forward Ashley Morin, with an injury suffered in the third-last league game before the tournament.
This weekend the Slash visit the Grande Prairie Storm (13-5-6) for two games.
The last game for the Slash before the Mac’s was the 5-1 loss to the first-place Edmonton Thunder (17-3-3) Dec. 22.