The David of the Taber midget “AA” Golden Suns did indeed slay the Goliath of the South Central Alberta Hockey League in the Okotoks Oilers.
Having lost only four games all year during the regular season, and only to Calgary teams as exhibition games, the Oilers were swept by a relentless Golden Suns squad in the second round of the SCAHL playoffs, punctuated by a 4-3 win at the Taber Arena on Tuesday.
Down 2-0 early in the game, the Taber Golden Suns continued to use its relentless forecheck to wear down the Oilers and chip away at the team’s resolved who were facing a do-or-die situation.
“We tied it up and then they got a power-play goal late in the second period to go up 3-2. We just kept saying to stick with it and work for it for 20 minutes and we’ll come out ahead,” said Derek Wiest, co-coach of the Taber midget “AA” Golden Suns.
“We went out in the third and forced a lot of the pressure and a lot of the play the whole period to overcome the deficit. We just wanted the game more basically. We never stopped moving our feet, our forecheck was unreal. They were not used to not having that kind of space all year. We kept using our speed forechecking and backchecking, and the game never opened up for them.”
Given the magnitude of the series win against an Oilers team that had previously been undefeated against actual SCAHL teams, beating up some to the tune of double-digit goal victories, the midget Golden Suns are currently on Cloud 9.
“We were flying pretty high after that one for sure. It’s a lot of emotion, just because of how good that team was, it was an unreal feat we pulled off,” said Wiest.
Taber midget Golden Suns took the first game of the series in Okotoks on Saturday 4-3.
Taber midget Golden Suns now face off against Lethbridge Hurricanes this week for the South title with game times unconfirmed at press time.
“It’s been very, very close (with Lethbridge), all like one or two-goal games. We won a league game and a provincial game and they won a league game and a provincial game so we have been very tight with them all year,” said Wiest.
“It will be another hard-fought battle. They beat us out to go to provincials in overtime and that stung the guys, so we’ll be looking for some redemption. But, at the end of the day, all we can do is control our game and go from there.”
BANTAM: Taber bantam “AA” Golden Suns put up a valiant fight against Medicine Hat in its first round of South Central Alberta Hockey League playoffs, but injuries proved too much to overcome, eventually succumbing 5-3 in the decisive, winner-take-all Game 3 on the road.
The Suns suffered a lopsided 8-2 loss in its opening game according to head coach Duane Nevil.
“We struggled to get going where we weren’t able to get anything going,” said Nevil.
Down four goals in Game 2 at home, the Taber bantam “AA” Golden Suns easily could have packed it in given the lopsided result in its earlier game, but showed plenty of fighting spirit and rallied to win in overtime to push the series to a Game 3.
“That game was exciting for everyone. I’m proud of the fight the boys had in them. It was a good team effort for all the kids.”
Game 3 on the road saw the Suns play its most complete game of the series, but ran into goal-scoring troubles.
“Everything looked fine, but their goaltender played really well. There was 10 minutes there where we couldn’t pull it off,” said Nevil. “We showed up a little later in the second period, but it comes down to consistency where you have to play a full 60. There have been games we have tried to win playing one or two periods, but that doesn’t work at this level.”
Having to use affiliate players for the decisive playoff games including a bantam “A” goalie that saw game action in two games of the series, you take a look at right from the crease on out to blueline and forwards and plenty of players missed significant time on the roster for the 2013-2014 SCAHL season.
“Something we battled all season long was injuries,” said Nevil adding one of the team’s top defencemen was concussed during the playoffs as well. “If we had been a healthy team, you think about what could of been. It would have helped out a lot. There were some first years that really stepped up their game and our top line played really well. Overall, I’m pretty proud of the boys with what we had to play through.”
PEEWEE: Taber peewee “AA” Golden Suns played one of the more entertaining opening series of the SCAHL playoffs but unfortunately saw its season end losing its game series with Foothills 2-1.
“We were pretty equally matched,” said Jason Beckett, head coach of the Taber peewee “AA” Golden Suns.
The scores of the three-game series proved the comment true as the Suns dropped its first game on the road 3-1, with Foothills’ third goal an empty netter. Taber peewee “AA” Golden Suns bounced back with an impressive 3-0 shutout at home at the Taber Arena.
The decisive third game was a 3-2 loss.
“Both teams played exceptionally well. The goaltending by both teams throughout the series was really good. Every player in Taber played at a whole other level, playing their best hockey of the year,” said Beckett. “There were lots and lots of scoring chances. We just couldn’t score when we needed it unfortunately. Finishing some of those scoring chances and we would have had a greater level of success.”
A good mix of 11 second and eight first-year players, the team suffered its share of losses, but Beckett was pleased with how the team came together for the 2013-2014 season.
“The biggest thing I think these kids displayed was a real sense of resiliency. Character wise, every kid had their struggles throughout the year — some longer than others. But, every kid persevered in their situation and contributed to the team,” said Beckett. “It was a fun year, but it was a tough year. We didn’t win as much as we lost which made it tough, but the level of compete in games always got better and better and more consistent. They practised really hard and stuck together as a group. I’d like to thank the parents for their commitment and the players for their positive, constructive attitudes, they were a great group of kids.”