SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. — The Red Deer Chiefs are champions once again at the Telus Cup.
Matt Zentner made 27 saves as the Chiefs won for a second consecutive year at Canada’s national midget hockey championship, 5-0 over the Ottawa Jr. 67’s on Sunday.
Red Deer coach Doug Quinn called his team a special group that played through plenty of injuries and adversity.
“We were rolling along and doing well in the second half of the year and then we came into the playoffs and had some really serious injuries,” said Quinn.
“We were using all kids of affiliates and bringing up guys and moved (forward Jack) Goranson back on defence. Probably at least five times we were facing elimination and we just seemed to find a way to win.”
Red Deer’s Chase Thudium opened the scoring against Ottawa late in the first before the Chiefs took a commanding 4-0 lead in the second on goals from Trey Degraaf, Ryker Leer and Chris Garrie.
“It was key (to get the second-period goals),” said Quinn. “It was key for us to get the first goal and gain a little confidence and then when we got the second one, we realized we were getting to the goalie a little bit. At the end of the day, if you keep directing enough pucks on net, you’re going to get opportunities.”
Ian McLellan added a goal in the third as the Chiefs became the third team to win back-to-back titles since 2000.
Red Deer overwhelmed Ottawa goaltender Simon Hofley, who had his second 50-save performance of the tournament.
“I’m really proud of the team,” said 67’s coach Travis Crickard. “They’ve done everything I’ve asked of them in terms of game plan and execution and it sucks that it was today that they didn’t execute but they have nothing to hang their heads about. They accomplished a lot this year.”
Red Deer advanced to the final after beating the Saskatoon Contacts 5-1 in the semifinal, while the 67’s booked their ticket with a 4-1 win over the Rousseau Royal de Laval-Montreal.
Laval-Montreal won the bronze medal earlier in the day with a 3-2 win over Saskatoon.
The tournament set an attendance record with 32,470 taking in the week-long tournament. The 2014 tournament will be held in Moose Jaw, Sask.