What a difference a year makes.
The Rocky Mountain Raiders, version 2014-15: 13 wins, 35 points, seventh place in the Alberta Major Midget Female Hockey League.
The Rocky Mountain Raiders, version 2015-16: 23 wins, 50 points, first place in the AMMFHL.
After opening the season 5-0, the Raiders never looked back, riding the league’s best offence to the team’s first regular season title.
With a mostly returning roster augmented by a strong group of first-year Midget players, head coach Paul Pozzi knew he had the depth for at least a top
“Have we overachieved? Yeah, I guess I would say we overachieved,” he says. “Did I think we’d be here? No. But I knew we had the drive. This is a pretty
special group. There’s no quit in this team.”
Rocky Mountain finished two points clear of the Sherwood Park Fury after taking the season series 3-1.
The Raiders opened the playoffs by sweeping a three-game preliminary series against the Edmonton Thunder (and ensuring a team other than the Thunder would
represent Alberta at the Pacific Regional for the first time), advancing them to the five-team provincial tournament.
After winning their first three games, the Raiders dropped their last to the Calgary Fire. With that result, Calgary advanced directly to the championship
game and Rocky Mountain needed to play the Spruce Grove Saints in the semifinal.
The Raiders shut out the Saints 4-0 to set up a winner-take-all rematch with the Fire.
“I thought playing that extra game would have us more tired, but I think it also worked in our favour,” says Pozzi. “It was just a lot of adrenaline
flowing. You wouldn’t have known we had played two games the night before.”
With the game tied 1-1 as time wound down in regulation, Breanne Trotter scored what proved to be the game-winner with 3:37 to play.
The Pacific Regional presented a rematch of the final of the annual Mac’s AAA Midget Hockey Tournament. Back in January, the Northern Capitals defeated the
“We went into the [Pacific Regional] very confident we could play them and play really well against them,” says Pozzi. “I think it worked in our favour
that we were the underdogs. They had a two-week break; we had just come off our provincials.”
Kara Kondrat’s one-timer from the slot gave the Raiders a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes. A great individual effort by Trotter made it 2-0 through 40 minutes,
and captain Nicolette Seper tipped in a shot on the power play early in the third, as the Raiders outshot the Capitals 33-24 in winning Game 1, 3-0.
The Raiders shut the door on the Capitals’ offence again the next day. Seper scored on a power play in the first. The Capitals outshot the Raiders 28-13
over the final two periods but couldn’t beat goaltender Erin Fargey. Empty-netters by Seper and Kennedy Brown in the final minute of the third period
sealed the deal for the Raiders.
Perhaps no one was more surprised than the players themselves. Many previously arranged to play in showcase events the weekend before the Esso Cup begins.
Team practices resumed afterward, and Pozzi says the players are “over the moon” to be capping their season at nationals.
HOW THEY GOT TO WEYBURN
Albert Major Midget Female Hockey League
Preliminary round: defeated Edmonton 3-0 (4-2, 6-1, 3-0)
Round robin: second place – 3-1 (defeated Sherwood Park 3-0, defeated Spruce Grove 4-2, defeated Peace Country 2-1, lost to Calgary 3-2)
Semifinal: defeated Spruce Grove 4-0
Championship: defeated Calgary 2-1
Defeated Northern 2-0 (3-0, 3-0)
Record: 23-5-1-3 (1st in AMMFHL)
Goals For: 107 (1st in AMMFHL)
Goals Against: 70 (4th in AMMFHL)
Longest Winning Streak: 7 (Dec. 20-Jan. 30)
Top 3 Scorers:
Nicolette Seper – 24G 13A 37P (2nd in AMMFHL)
Paige Russell – 8G 16A 24P (T-7th in AMMFHL)
Lacey Dimaulo – 11G 12A 23P (T-9th in AMMFHL)
Goals For: 36
Goals Against: 10
Top 3 Scorers:
Nicolette Seper – 6G 11A 17P
Lacey Dimaulo – 6G 4A 10P
Breanne Trotter – 5G 5A 10P
NATIONAL MIDGET CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
PLAYERS TO WATCH
extremely quick … tenacious and gritty player … well-rounded athlete … relentless work ethic … ability to draw penalties
high hockey IQ … plays in all situations … exceptional patience … strong playmaker … uses her teammates well … reads the game well … can put the puck in
excellent skater … takes the puck to the net … very skilled … playmaker and scorer … great leader … sees the ice well … special player