The Airdrie Lightning midget AA girls’ hockey team’s new year began on a disappointing note Jan. 5, as the team fell 3-2 in overtime against the Edmonton Pandas.
Playing its first game of the Alberta Female Hockey League (AFHL) season in three weeks, the Lightning fell just short at the Ron Ebbesen Arena against the visiting Pandas.
“It was a really good game – I thought we gave it 100 per cent the whole time,” said head coach Shayla Katrick. “It was just a few little things that affected our play, like penalties. Other than that, we had a really strong game, especially coming back from the Christmas break.”
Despite dropping points, Katrick said, it was a positive performance for the Lightning, and indicated a change in attitude for the struggling side, which currently occupies the bottom of the AFHL Midget Elite (AA) South Division standings.
“I think it’s been a growing year, but I think we’re going to start peaking,” she said. “We’ve finally clicked as a team and as a unit, and we’re starting to play like that. Today’s game was 100 per cent different than the first half of the season.”
Third-year defenseman Jolin Bischke – the Lightning’s captain – opened the scoring for Airdrie in the first period.
A flurry of penalties occurred in the second stanza – including four two-minute minors called against Airdrie – and Edmonton capitalized with a pair of goals to take the lead.
“We couldn’t control the uncontrollables,” Bischke said.
Airdrie trailed 2-1 for most of the third period, before Emily Biggin – the Lightning’s scoring leader this season, with seven points – forced overtime with a well-placed snipe in the final three minutes.
Despite having regained momentum with the late equalizer, Airdrie conceded its eighth penalty of the game early into overtime, and Edmonton managed to score on the ensuing power play.
Edmonton almost scores in OT: pic.twitter.com/CTv8aOV2BD— Scott Strasser (@scottstrasser19) January 4, 2020
“We have to keep giving it our all, 100 per cent of the time,” Bischke said. “Sometimes we let ourselves down, and we give up, a little bit. But if we keep going, we always seem to win when we play a 60-minute game.”
The defeat leaves Airdrie with a 5-9-1 record at the bottom of the South Division standings, with just 11 games left to play in the 2019-20 regular season.
“The second half of the season is really the time for us to click, and I think teams are going to start underestimating us,” Katrick said. “We’ll have a good, strong run in the second half of the season.”
The Lightning will be back in action Jan. 10 and 11, with games against the Calgary Fire White and the Rocky Mountain Raiders. The Jan. 10 game will begin at 8 p.m. at Genesis Place Recreation Centre, while the Jan. 11 fixture will take place in Okotoks.