Check out TSN's latest story on Red Deer Rebels defenceman Mathew Dumba as he gets set to lead Team Canada into battle at the World U-18 Hockey Championship in the Czech Republic.
The scene played out last night at the Red Deer Arena was one we have already seen numerous times during the Red Deer Optimist Rebels playoff run.
Stifling defensive play. Dozens of shots on the opponent's net. Fast-paced. Low scoring.
Ty Mappin scored the only goal of the game with just 2:19 left in the third period. The Optimist Rebels took game one of the Pacific Region Midget AAA Championship 1-0 over the Vancouver NW Giants. Red Deer grabs a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series.
Mappin (who had three or four great scoring chances go for naught earlier in the period) was the beneficiary of a great setup by Tanner Lomsnes... who charged into Vancouver territory down the left wing side, blew past the defender and circled the net before sliding the puck through the crease to an open Mappin. Dylan Thudium was also in the area but admitted after the game that it was indeed Mappin who netted the game winning goal.
Lomsnes' solid effort did not go unnoticed by Red Deer Optimist Rebels Head Coach Doug Quinn.
"Tanner is one of the players that has certainly stepped up for us throughout the playoffs" Quinn commented following the game. "He's taken his game to another level. That line [with Mappin and Thudium] has really carried us."
At the other end of the rink, Dasan Sydora did what he's done all playoffs long for Red Deer. He wasn't tested often, Vancouver had 16 shots on the night, but faced some quality chances. Especially so in the third period when both teams were pressing hard for the elusive first goal. Sydora earned his fifth shutout in 11 playoff games played. His goals against average drops to a miniscule 0.91 while his save percentage rises to a sparkling .963.
Quinn said it was exciting for his players to play in front of a raucous hometown crowd [estimated at approx. 1000] but felt it also may have played a role in what he felt was a slow start to the game for the Optimist Rebels.
When it comes to the Vancouver NW Giants, Braden Krogfoss was their best player on the night (he and Lomsnes were selected as the Players of the Game for their respective teams). The 16-year-old netminder turned aside 37 of the 38 shots he faced and gave his team a chance to win right up until the final whistle. Now when you look at the Giants stats, they have split their games fairly evenly between Krogfoss and his goaltending partner, Liam Smith. It will be very interesting to see who Head Coach Todd Harkins goes with tonight for game two.
Giants defenceman Josh Thrower was given plenty of ice time to audition for his WHL team. The 6'0" 186 lb. defender was selected in the 2nd round of the WHL Bantam Draft by the Calgary Hitmen... and both GM Kelly Kisio and Assistant Coach Brent Kisio were in attendance last night to see him play first hand. I think they'll be pleased with what they saw for the most part. Aside from a couple of minor miscues, Thrower played very well for the amount of ice time he received... which was a lot.
Vancouver's leading scorer Adam Helewka (9 points in playoff games coming into last night, 53 points in 40 regular season games) was held at bay last night. But judging by those numbers it'll be tough to do that two nights in a row. No doubt he'll have something to say about how tonight's game turns out.
"We had a kind of nervous energy and sometimes that can tire a body out. But, we found a way to win and that's all that matters right now."
It's safe to say that Quinn and the rest of the Optimist Rebels would love to see another large crowd on-hand tonight at the Red Deer Arena as they try to clinch the series and a trip to the Telus Cup in Leduc. Game time tonight is at 7pm.
If you're unable to make it to the game, check out www.imediatv.ca as I'll have live play-by-play coverage. We had great response to our first broadcast last night, thanks to everyone who tuned in! We hope to have you back again tonight (and tell some friends!)