The top lines of the Northeast BC and Yukon Trackers were clicking on Saturday at Memorial Arena as the Midget ‘AA’ club wrapped up their season with a win over the Camrose Vikings.
Kody McManus and Thomas Webster paired up for two goals each in the win as lines one and two combined for all four Trackers’ goals. Saturday’s win helped the Trackers split this weekend’s doubleheader after they fell 3-2 to Camrose on Friday in Taylor.
Despite splitting the series, Trackers head coach Brennen Giroux said he was proud to see a strong overall effort with playoffs round the bend.
“Everybody really came together this weekend,” said Giroux. “It was a good weekend in terms of play and guys really stepped up, recognizing that this could be their last games [in midget]. Our 17-year olds had a good weekend.”
Players such as McManus who led the Trackers with three points over two games and defenceman Charles Dagostin, also in his last year, assisted on McManus’ two markers on Saturday; while Jedd Gaudereault, who will age out this year, scored a goal in Friday’s loss.
“Our third-line guys, Kohlman Brinsky, Brandon Howard and Jedd also played well. They got matched up with their [Camrose] top lines and they shut them down,” noted Giroux. “That’s what we expect out of them. They’re not going to get much ice time when it comes down to it, but they know their role.”
On Friday, the Trackers opened the scoring with a goal from captain Mark Readman, but the Vikings would score twice in the second.
“We were up 1-0 in the first and then everybody kind of went on their own page as an individual in the second, and we let in two goals,” said Giroux.
The Trackers would tie things at two, but had trouble burying the puck the rest of the way.
“We came back and our third line had a really good shift and really amped us up to tie us back up. It was just one of those games where we should have scored the third goal but just couldn’t find the net,” explained Giroux.
Vikings’ Colton Hovde would score the eventual game winner with five minutes left.
On Saturday, Webster would score first, kicking off the scoring with an early powerplay marker less than two minutes into the first, set up by Gale Wyatt and Ricky Bateman.
The Vikings would eventually tie things at 1-1 but the Trackers quickly responded as McManus buried his first of the night 20 seconds of Camrose scored, making it 2-1 at the first intermission.
McManus continued the scoring in the second, out-deking Camrose goaltender Sam Johnson with a beautiful breakaway move.
Trackers goalie Michael Chute, another veteran, would then take over. Though he allowed two more Camrose goals, Chute was incredible down the stretch, stopping 31 shots overall.
The Vikings would notch a late second period goal to trail 3-2 but Chute was near perfect in the third. Already up 4-2 following Webster’s second, Chute gave up his third of the night when Camrose pulled their goalie and jammed home a loose puck with five seconds left in regulation to make it a 4-3 final.
Giroux said that with playoffs set to begin this weekend, the Trackers defence is where they need to be, and the team will do well so long as they find the net.
“Our defensive end has been working the system to a T right now. Even against Peace River and Grande Prairie they fulfilled their roles. It’s instinctive now. We just need to start worrying about getting more goals and shots.”
The Northern Alberta Midget Hockey League playoffs begin this week with the Flyers taking on first-round matchup, Ft. McMurray, in a best-of-three series. With home-ice advantage, the Trackers will play three straight at home, starting Friday in Dawson Creek.