The Warman Midget AA Wildcats were swept in the Centre Four Hockey League (CFHL) Final against North East, after dropping a 4-0 decision in Game 3 of the best-of-five series on March 24, at the Legends Centre.
Entering the game, the Wildcats had three guys out of their lineup due to injury. However, Warman coach Terence Presniak expected the team to still play hard.
“You can still win with 13 people, it just makes it more difficult and everyone’s got to buy in,” he said.
At the start of the contest, both teams didn’t have many scoring chances. In the second half of the opening period, North East started to build momentum after the Wildcats got into some penalty trouble.
Warman withstood the North East pressure and the game was still scoreless going in the middle frame. At the start of that period, Warman had a couple of quality scoring chances, but the Wildcats couldn’t find the back of the net.
Late in the period, North East netted one on the power-play to gain the 1-0 advantage. Shortly after that goal, North East committed a major penalty and Warman was on the man-advantage for five minutes. The Wildcats didn’t capitalize on that opportunity and Presniak thought the Wildcats could’ve use the power-play to get back into the game.
“We still got our power-play chances that we didn’t bury, which kind of legged us all series,” he said.
North East outshot the Wildcats 30-13 after 20 minutes, but Warman only trailed 1-0. Warman goaltender Corbin Christianson played a huge part in keeping it a close game.
“Corbin’s been our go-to guy, Presniak said. “He had trouble in the playoffs, but the first game (of this series) we went to double overtime and today he kept us in it.”
In the third period, North East scored three consecutive goals to pull away. Late in the game frustration definitely got to Warman and after a big hit along the boards, a scrum broke out between the teams.
The end result was four North East players and three Wildcats getting game misconducts. And there was a Warman head contact penalty and a North East roughing penalty in the mix as well.
This series and the series prior definitely took, a toll on Warman.
“We had trouble playing some of these physical series in the playoffs. That last round against Unity, it battle-tested us. Unfortunately we had lots of lumps and bruises, but that’s playoff hockey. This series, North East kind of took advantage of that,” Presniak said.
The Wildcats couldn’t establish momentum in Game 3, which led to their downfall.
“There were opportunities where we just needed that goal to get back in it and it just didn’t happen. We didn’t score in the last two games. You got to score to have a chance to win it,” he said.
Despite, falling short in the CFHL final, the Wildcats had success in the season. Warman finished as the top team in the regular season for the second straight year and Presniak thought that they became better hockey players.
“These boys developed and for me that’s the name of the game, that these boys have an opportunity to move on and continue their hockey career,” he said.