Tuesday, 07 February 2012 10:57

Swift Current Wildcats getting ready for playoffs

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By Matthew Liebenberg
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The Swift Current Diamond Energy Wildcats concluded their regular season on a high note with a 4-0 win over the visiting Prince Albert A&W Bears on Feb. 5.

But it was not all plain skating for the team, as the Wildcats lost the first of their two-game set during the weekend with a score of 3-1 on Feb. 4.

Wildcats Head Coach Terry Pavely said his players simply could not hold on to the puck during the first game.

“We competed really hard but we turned the puck over way too much,” he mentioned. “It seemed like every time we got the puck we panicked a little bit and then we weren't able to generate any scoring chances.”

The Wildcats actually scored first during that game when Carley Bertram received the puck from Brenna Thomson almost five minutes into the first period. But thereafter the Bears took control with two power play goals during the second period and another goal in the third period.

The Wildcats looked more solid in their second game. Brooke McAdam scored a power play goal in the first period. Jill Kennedy scored twice during the second period, one shorthanded and the other unassisted. Amber Froehlich scored another power play goal in the third period. Carly Bertram got two assists during the game.

Pavely said the team's puck control was much better during the second game and they also improved their scoring chances with more shots to the net. After making only 17 shots to goal during the first game, the Wildcats increased their shots to 29 during the second game.

The team will be attending a 12-team hockey tournament during the Family Day long weekend and then focus on the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League playoffs that will start shortly afterwards.

The few remaining league games will determine their opponents in the initial playoff round, but Pavely said they will probably play against Notre Dame, Saskatoon or Weyburn. Last year the Wildcats were eliminated early on when the the Saskatoon Stars won the first three games of their quarter final series.

The Wildcats finished the regular season in seventh position, the same spot as last year. Pavely said they were hoping to finish a little higher this year.

“The bottom line is we struggled scoring goals,” he mentioned. “We averaged at just under two goals a game, so if you don't score goals you basically have to shut out the other team to get an opportunity to win.”

But he felt the second half of their season after the Christmas break was much better. In addition to the shutout win in their final game, two games were tied and a few others were narrow losses.

“Our results may not have indicated that, but we've played teams like Weyburn really tough,” he said. “We've improved a lot and we're getting to a spot where we really think we can compete with any team. We'll have to play that way in the playoffs because we know we're going to play somebody good.”

The team is currently in a rebuilding phase with 12 new players this year. Their big goal at the moment is to continue improving.

“That's unfortunately the process you have to go through,” he said. “We were really good for a couple of years but we were older and now we're in that transition period.”

Their aim for the playoffs is to compete really hard. Some teams will be a better matchup than others, which should improve their chances of moving past the initial round.

“We're going to take the mentality that it's a new season and everybody is 0-0,” he said. “If we win we'll evaluate and see how we have to play the next series and if we don't then you evaluate for next season. But we definitely think we can compete in that first round.”

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