The Midget AAA Red Deer Optimist Chiefs are one win away from clinching first place in the Alberta Midget Hockey League’s Chrysler Division, and first place overall.
This after an 8-3 victory over Edmonton CAC Gregg Distributors at the Servus Arena in Red Deer on Sunday.
Despite the two points, Head Coach Doug Quinn says he still sees room for improvement regarding his team’s play.
“We just gave up a lot of quality scoring opportunities and really gave up some bad goals this whole weekend,” says Quinn. “Overall, the one positive is where we were struggling to score goals early in the year, now we’re actually starting to put the puck in the net, so we’re shooting it better.”
Quinn truly believes, however, that if you’re going to do well in the playoffs, you have to play strong defense and minimize mistakes.
“We didn’t have a particularly good first period [Sunday] and then we come out after we talked about it, the first shift we turn it over and get scored on and so I wasn’t too pleased with that,” Quinn lamented. “I just told my team, sometimes it’s hard to play well every single game and sometimes I think that we are looking at standings and thought this was going to be easier but as I’ve told them in this league, there’s never any easy games and you have to come to play every day.”
With the playoffs approaching near the end of this month and a first-round bye already earned, Quinn feels his team will have to step up their game to make a run at the league title.
“For us, we’re just going to have to play with better defensive structure. We still have the fewest goals against in the league and usually we really lock it down but we’ve been pretty loose this weekend, so I think we’re going to focus a little bit more on just playing better defense and probably moving the puck just a little bit better out of our zone.”
With the ultimate goal for the team being a national title, Quinn says it will be important for them to get hot at the right time.
“It’s always to be there at the end and win a championship, admits Quinn. “It’s always, we want to be better as a team but our goal the whole year is to peak in the playoffs and hopefully we’re still there at the end.”
The Chiefs will close out their regular season on Sunday, February 18 at home against the Calgary Royals before enjoying a bye in the first round of the playoffs and preparing for the Chrysler Division Semi-Finals.
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