In a do-or-die third game of the Mac’s Tournament round-robin, the Home Hardware Midget AAA Legionnaires brought a heavy dose of effort, but couldn’t find the back of the net, as their playoff hopes fizzled out.
Swift Current was taking on the Okanagan Rockets in Pool 3 play Saturday afternoon, falling 4-0, though it came in a game that was much closer than the score would suggest.
“It was a real good game,” said head coach Darren Evjen. “They score to make it 1-0 kind of on a broken play. We had every opportunity to be right there. We had our chances, and we didn’t score.”
The Legionnaires trailed by that 1-0 score after 20 minutes of play, as the Rockets out-shot Swift 9-6 in the tight opening frame.
Things were no different in the second period for Swift Current, who did a good job clamping down the middle of the ice to hamper a dynamic Rockets attack.
“Second period, the same thing,” Evjen noted. “I think we had more opportunities to create on our chances, but we didn’t.”
Okanagan scored midway through the middle frame to take a 2-0 lead to the second intermission, outshooting the Legionnaires 12-4 in the period.
“It was very similar in the third,” said Evjen. “We had some chances – we had a couple breakaways and we just don’t score.”
The score remained 2-0 for 11:30 of the third period, until the Rockets scored on the powerplay, before adding an empty-netter with 2:41 remaining in the game to seal it.
Jacob Herman again performed steadily in net, stopping 32 shots for the Legionnaires.
Now at 0-1-2 and out of the playoff race at the Mac’s, the Legionnaires have played 180 minutes of high-quality hockey – a testament to just how narrow the margin for error is at this tournament.
“I’d say the big part of it is they’ve played hard,” Evjen said of his team’s veteran-led push over the course of the tournament so far.
“They’ve set the pace we’ve got to play at, and everybody has. I never felt our group – after we started playing the first game – really felt nervous or anything. They just wanted to win, and play hard.”
From puck drop in Game 1 to the end of Game 3, it’s been a hockey-filled 46.5 hours for the Legionnaires. Now, they get a day off ahead of their tournament finale.
“The day off is a day off for us. I’ve found over the years, the best thing to do is let the players go with their families,” Evjen said. “If they want to shop or visit relatives, just get a day away from the rink and do something different. Then. come back, we’ve got Okotoks. It should be a good game.”
Once back from the day off, Swift Current will be looking to play spoiler to the Okotoks Oilers’ playoff hopes. The Oilers are 1-1-0, and play their third game Sunday afternoon against the Lloydminster Bobcats.
“The one thing about players and young kids is they usually bounce back pretty good, so our fourth game I’m sure they’ll come back and they’ll play hard,” said Evjen “We’ve got to try and get a win and get out of here one win, one tie, and two losses.”
The Legionnaires and Oilers battle Monday at 12:45 p.m. Sask time from Father David Bauer Arena in Calgary.