The Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League (AMBHL) post-season came and went in a flash for the Airdrie Xtreme.
The AAA boys’ bantam team’s playoff push was short-lived, with the Xtreme going down 2-1 in its best-of-three series against the Southeast Athletic Club (SEAC) Tigers.
“They were obviously disappointed,” said Xtreme head coach Tyson Soloski after the team’s season-ending 3-2 defeat Feb. 28 at the Ron Ebbesen Arena. “It’s always tough to end your season with a loss. That being said, only one team gets to end the year with a win.
“Our message was just that we were extremely proud of the effort and determination the players showed.”
After missing out on the post-season in 2019, Airdrie was back in the playoffs after ending the regular season as the Ram South Division’s second seed. Playing against the third-seeded Tigers, the Xtreme fell in the series opener Feb. 25, 4-3 but rallied back in Medicine Hat two nights later to even up the series with a 3-1 win. Connor Frost grabbed a pair of goals, while captain Grady Hauk chipped in with another.
With the series tied at one win apiece, the two sides met for the deciding game Feb. 28. Despite the Xtreme’s home-ice advantage and an early 1-0 lead following a goal from Cayden Hartnell, Airdrie gave up three goals in the second and third periods.
Second-year forward Jayden Gallant brought one back for the Xtreme halfway through the final stanza, but the hosts couldn’t achieve the game-tying goal in the final 10 minutes.
“It was a hard-fought series against a good team,” Soloski said. “We felt that if the bounces had gone a bit differently, we would’ve come out on top. The players are upset, but they’re also proud of their entire season.”
And that’s how it ends. Tough loss for the Xtreme but overall, still a solid season and a return (albeit short lived) to the AMBHL playoffs. Here’s the last few seconds. pic.twitter.com/31847lmRLT— Scott Strasser (@scottstrasser19) February 29, 2020
This season was a bit of a rebuild for the Xtreme, which only included four returning players from 2018-19. According to Soloski, making it back to the AMBHL playoffs was a sign of the team’s progress.
“Obviously, we missed out on the playoffs last year,” he said. “I wasn’t here, but I followed it closely.
“It sucks not to be in the playoffs, so to have three games in the playoffs this year meant a lot and was a good experience for all of our players – especially the first-years, who will be back next year.”
Next year’s Xtreme will see three defensemen and a forward returning, according to Soloski.