With only five games left in the regular season, the Barrhead Midget ‘AA’ Steelers have to face down adversity to make the playoffs.
One of their last remaining hurdles pulled into town last Friday.
The St. Albert Blues are currently in first place of the Central Red division of the Northern Alberta Midget ‘AA’ Hockey League. They are a highly skilled team having scored more than 160 goals this season.
They came out of the gate hard and fast against the Steelers winning the game 7-4.
The Blues overwhelmed them with their skill tested their resolve by opening the scoring at 10:56 of the first period on a wrist shot by Brent McGugan that trickled through goalie Ian Wierenga’s pads.
At 9:56 in the first, McGugan was open in front of the net and would score his second goal of the game on a pass that came from behind the net by Casey Reid.
About two minutes later, while on the power play, the Steelers cut the deficit in half when Connor Tiemstra took a breakout pass from defenceman Bo Fortin and drove hard to the net. He let go a quick wrist shot from the hash marks of the faceoff circle that Blues goalie Cole Saunders couldn’t handle.
At the close of the first period, the Steelers looked hungry for more goals.
“It took us a little while to wake up in the first there, we got some momentum and a little bit of confidence going,” said coach Daniel Lefebvre.
The second was all Blues, who peppered Wierenga with 18 shots.
The Steelers gave the Blues a brief scare by tying up the game at 17:56 in the second when Spencer Voight found space at the side of the net. He one-timed the pass from Austin Caldwell into the yawning net for a power-play goal.
At the other end of the ice, Wierenga came up with a huge save on a breakaway attempt by Barrett Belland.
Minutes later, Mitch McNamara was perched high in the slot when he took a pass from McGugan at 15:55 and put a wrist shot into the top corner of the net that Wierenga couldn’t stop.
They would team up for another goal about seven minutes later when an arrant shot by McNamara hit a couple of legs in front of the net, deflecting past a helpless Wierenga.
The Blues would add one more before the end of the period at 1:26 mark. Aj Yariwon was standing untouched at the top of crease when he banged ia bouncing puck off Wierenga’s pad and into the net.
Heading to the dressing room, the Steelers looked a little shaken being down 5-2.
Lefebvre elected to change goalies for the start of the third period and sent in Justin Challman to replace Wierenga.
It took the Blues less than two minutes to score on Challman, who had been sitting for the first 40 minutes of the game.
McGugan scored his third goal of the game while on the power play, beating Challman with a shot along the ice.
The Steelers answered with a power-play goal of their own at 12:32 of the third when Caldwell snapped a goal past Saunders from the side of the net.
Things got interesting at 7:18 when Corey Mercier’s point shot was tipped by Scott Westerlund, stinging the mesh of the net.
But the Blues added to their lead in the dying seconds of the game when Yariwon shot the puck into the vacated net.
“We just didn’t play a full 60 minutes, it was a big let down,” said Lefebvre. “I tell these guys if we just played the full 60, we can beat any team in this league.”