The Cochrane Chaos female junior hockey team has punched their ticket to the Alberta Junior Female Hockey League (AJFHL) North Division Finals after a series sweep of the Calgary Warriors on March 4.
The Chaos took Game 1 of the best-of-three series in convincing fashion by a score of 6-1 and capitalized on a chance to close out the series with another win on home ice. Cochrane managed to score the first goal of the game when Audrey Buston fired a shot home, and took a 1-0 lead after the first period. The Warriors would come back and score the next two goals in the contest, before Shelby Kirkpatrick took a feed from Faith Gette and pounded a shot past the Calgary goaltender. The game would go to the third period tied, with a trip to the North Finals on the line.
Summer Gibbons scored the game winner for Cochrane, as she collected a rebound off a shot by Ryann Altawasser and deposited the puck into the net, giving the Chaos a 3-2 win.
Eight Chaos players had points, led by Gibbons with the game winner and goaltender Jenna Weseen was solid down the stretch, making 25 key saves, including a flurry of stops to close out the game for her team.
Gibbons who was eighth on the team in scoring with 16 points (8 goals and 8 assists) said she thought her team battled hard throughout the course of the game and that the Warriors gave them their best game of the season.
“Well for starters I think we took the Warriors a little to lightly in the first period, but as a team we all knew what we had to do to win and we pulled through to finish strong,” Gibbons said.
“Our goalies have stood on their head all through the regular season and playoffs and they both played a strong part in that series. We have an amazing team and coaching staff and honestly I couldn’t ask for a better group.”
Gibbons, who scored the game winner late in the third period, said it was an amazing feeling knowing that her goal pushed the Chaos through to the next round.
“My teammates are the ones who push me to be the best of my ability. Without them, I’m not sure where I’d be. It was a pretty cool feeling to score the goal, but I can’t take full credit for it,” said Gibbons.
“It was an amazing shift with my line mates Audrey (Buston) and Ryann (Altawasser) and we knew the game was coming to a close and we knew what we needed to do. Ryann had a hard shot on net and fortunately I was standing in the right spot at the right time to tap it in. It was a great effort throughout the game from the entire team and now we’re headed to the north final.”
The Chaos will now face off with the Central Alberta Amazons in the North Finals. The Amazons finished tied a top the standings with Cochrane, as both teams finished with 48 points, with the tiebreaker being that Cochrane won four out of the five meetings during the regular season. All but one game was decided by a single goal, while Cochrane outscored Central Alberta 12-7.
The Amazons were also the team that knocked the Chaos out of the playoffs last year, which Gibbons said leaves the local team with some unfinished business to take care of.
“The Amazons are a strong and fast team and we knew that at the beginning of the year that they we’re likely going to be the team to beat. We all know what has to be done as individuals and as a group we need to play the way we have all season long,” Gibbons said.
“If we play hard, fast Chaos hockey, this team can do big things. We have a couple practices before game 1 that are going to be high in intensity and focus as we prepare for an exciting weekend of games.”
The best-of-three game series begins on March 9, and could potentially lead to three games in three nights, depending if the third game is necessary. Neither team has yet to go through a grueling stretch of games like this one, but the Chaos forward said her team is prepared to play all three days if needed.
“Our coaches and trainers have been explaining the importance of nutrition and rest all season long,” Gibbons said.
“We’ve been preparing for a weekend like this all year and we’re really looking forward to these upcoming games.”
Game 1 of the North Finals will take place March 9 at Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre, while Game 2 will take place at the Penhold Regional Multiplex the following day. Should Game 3 be needed, it will go on March 11 at Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre.