The second round of the provincial playdowns got off to a rough start for the Athabasca Peewee ‘A’ Hawks.
After eliminating Westlock in the first round with consecutive wins (10-4 and 6-4), the Hawks received a bigger challenge with the arrival of the Barrhead Flyers at the Athabasca Regional Multiplex on Sunday.
In that game, the Flyers took control early and didn’t relinquish it on the way to a 6-1 victory.
Michael Zacharuk had the lone goal for Athabasca, with an assist from Sean Greene.
Athabasca coach Jody Tangedal said his team produced a better effort than the score would indicate, but acknowledged that Barrhead, being the top team in the league, might have the advantage of intimidation on their side.
“I think we came in thinking that they’re the better club,” he said. “They haven’t blown us out this year, but this one got away from us.”
The lopsided score in game one will make it quite difficult for the Hawks to win the two-game, total points series. With the goal differential, they will need to win game two by more than five goals to eliminate Barrhead.
“We’ve got to pounce on them,” said Tangedal, noting that his team was unable to do that in the first game of the series. “You can’t have a slow start against a first-place team that has a ton of confidence.”
The question for the peewee team now is how to erase the memory of game one from their minds, and approach game two with a clean slate.
For starters, they will need to score early, score often, and keep the puck out of their own net at the same time. That’s going to be a challenge, but the coach believes his team is up to it.
“We’ll probably turn our defense loose, because we’ve got nothing to lose,” he said, noting the defenders will have to pitch in on the scoring if the team is to have a chance at a comeback.
“We will give them the green light and forecheck hard.”
Regardless of what happens in game two of the Barrhead series, there is more hockey to be played in the form of the league playoffs. The Hawks will finish in fifth or sixth depending on how their final regular season game goes.
Whichever team lines up against them in the first round, the coach believes his players will be ready.
“We’ve been coming on in the last little bit. We’re right there.”