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Raiders clean up

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in Raiders two seasons to get into the AAA bantam Hockey grove and now in their fourth year, the team owns two shiny provincial banners after defeating Sherwood Park on Mar. 22 and 23, 3-2 and 4-1 respectively for the provincial win.
One year ago the Raiders Bantam girls AAA hockey club won their first provincial banner. They weren’t the biggest, but they came together and played as a cohesive unit and picked up their first banner in their third season of existence.
Coming into this season as the defending champs for the illustrious Alberta title with five returning players, head coach Jason Seper was amazed at how quickly his team came together and quickly picked up where they left off last season.
“We gave these girls a system, they took to it really well and they just kept on getting better and better,” said Seper. “I don’t know if we had the most talented team in the league, but we certainly had the most dedicated and hard working group, that’s for sure.”
And despite the team having not played together for the most part, being from all corners of Rocky View County, Seper felt that the girls had an uncanny ability to gel and found chemistry quickly. So much so that Seper and the coaches quickly saw the teams potential to compete.
“Sometimes you get a team with little clicks and there’s disagreements, but none of that this year. I feel a genuine sense of love in the dressing room, they love coming to the rink, they love playing with each other and it showed through their play on the ice,” said Seper.
It’d be the understatement of the year to say that the Raiders did pretty well; pretty well would be a 16-12 record and squeaking into the playoff picture.
No, “pretty good” doesn’t come close to describing the 24-3-1 record that the Raiders amassed en route to a 6-0 playoff run that ended in being crowned the best in the province.
Game one was a tight match between Sherwood Park and The Raiders as they faced off in Cochrane On march 22. The teams battled back and forth with Cochrane goalie, Amanda Zeglen shutting the door when the team needed her most, picking up the 3-2 win.
In game two the Raiders made the long trip north to the eastern suburb of Edmonton and the game didn’t start the way coach Seper would have liked, he said.
“In the first 10 minutes we actually came out pretty slow and let them dictate the game a bit,” he said.
But after that, Seper said, his girls controlled the game.
Scoring 4 goals and beating out the top ranked Sherwood Park team 4-1 to cap off a commanding 6-0 playoff run, bringing home a defended provincial AAA banner to Cochrane.
With the team playing most of their games on Cochrane ice and five of the girls coming from Cochrane, Seper said this is a big win not only for the Rocky View region, but for Cochrane.
Amanda Zeglen, Nicolette Seper, Brette, Matheson and Taylor Sawka all hale from Cochrane while the rest of the team comes from Chestermere, Okotoks, Airdrie, Strathmore and Indus.
“I feel that this area produces some of the best female hockey players in Canada. The amount of players that we have competing for the U18 national spots for team Alberta are disproportional to the rest of Canada,” Seper said.
The team is looking primed to defend again next season and coach Seper is even more confident in his group as 10 players are likely to return for the 2013-14 season.

Ryan.McLeod@sunmedia.ca

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