COCHRANE— The Cochrane Chaos Junior women’s hockey team hosted its regular-season opener on Sunday (Oct. 25) against the Calgary Titans.
The Chaos put a lot of pressure on the Titans defense during the game at the Spray Lake Sawmills Sports Centre Totem Two arena, generating many opportunities and forcing overtime after tying the game 3-3 late in the third period with a power-play goal from Ryann Altwasser off assists from Shelby Kirkpatrick and Faith Gette.
Although the team lost in overtime, head coach Derek Loomer said, he was happy with the level of play he saw.
“I thought it was a terrific game. I thought overall we did a terrific job for the full 60 minutes— We played very hard and we had very few breakdowns,” Loomer said. “The shots show that we outshot them. I think they got a couple of good bounces and we got a couple of good goals.
“Then we got the unfortunate breakdown in our overtime that led to the loss."
The total for shots in the game was 41-31 for the Chaos, who spent a significant amount of time on possession, but couldn’t translate the opportunities to goals.
Loomer said he would be working with the players to address turning opportunities into successes.
“It’s something that we work on in practice a lot as far as more deceptive shooting and following up with rebounds and net-front battles to get a hold of pucks for a better finish,” he said. “It’s something that you mentally work with the girls to visualize— That puck going through goaltenders instead of hitting them.”
The vast majority of goals scored in the Alberta Junior Female Hockey League are scored from right in front of the net, Loomer said.
Working with the girls on the team to enforce that lesson is a big component of being successful against competitive teams.
“In our league, goals can be at a premium. They’re pretty hard to come by when you come against a good team with good goaltending,” he said.
Despite the loss, Loomer said, it was great to see his team back out on the ice, and many of the players were excited for the opportunity to play competitive hockey.
“Right from the start of camp, back in September, it was really evident that the girls just wanted to be back on the ice,” he said. “They were just happy to be back as a group and ready to play. Being able to play against other teams and have a fairly normal hockey season is going to be really good for the long-term mental health of this group of young athletes.”
The Chaos face off against the Titans again in Cochrane on Friday (Oct. 30), and once more on Nov. 6.
The pair play in Calgary on Wednesday (Oct. 28) and Sunday (Nov. 1).
Following the series against Calgary, the Chaos will face off against the Central Alberta Amazons on Nov. 21.
During the two-week break, Loomer said, the team will be working hard to stay game ready.
“In that two weeks we’ll have our practices that give us time to work on some of the skill stuff, but we’ll also have a lot of game situations or scrimmages,” he said. “It’s something that we talk about in practice, that when we’re here we need to make each other better and we’ve got to practice like we’re going to play and keep that intensity going— Especially when you have that two-week layoff.”