The Cochrane Chaos are currently waiting to see who they'll be hosting in the opening game of the south division championship of the Alberta Junior Female Hockey League (AJFHL) this Sunday afternoon in Totem One.
The Lethbridge Eagles and Calgary Jags have one win each in their best-of-three series heading into Saturday night's game in Lethbridge. Whoever wins will be here in Cochrane on Sunday for a 2:45 p.m. game.
Team captain Kaley Mueller and alternate captains Sarah Nusl and Nicole Johnson gave us a little of their time to talk about the divisional championship ahead and their determination to win it all.
Whether it's the Lethbridge Eagles or the Calgary Jags, the trio knows they'll have to hit the ice ready to compete and have something to prove after being shocked in the south division championship last season by the Eagles.
Perhaps it's there that the mental preparation began.
"With playoffs, you can't expect anything," says Chaos captain Kaley Mueller. "You can't go in there thinking you're going to win. I think that was probably our issue last year. We didn't lose many games (only two), and we expected we were going to win. Then we got swept in the second round. So this year, we're expecting some things to go wrong, and for us to be able to pull ourselves out of those bad situations."
While the Chaos have a winning record against both the Eagles and Jags, each of those teams has strengths to contend with. And, as they say, playoffs are a fresh start for every team. Just asked the Central Alberta Amazons, who only won four games in the regular season and toppled the fierce Edmonton Wolves two games straight in a north semifinal series.
"The Jags have an unreal goalie," says alternate captain Nicole Johnson. "She's the tops in the league and we can't have pretty shots on her. We've got to pepper her and get to the net. With the Eagles, they're a fast team, and we have to get by them."
There is a lot of new blood on the Chaos, but they've had 28 games to gel.
"We have a lot of energy and a lot of determination," says alternate captain Sarah Nusl. "Building more chemistry throughout the season has been amazing for us. I feel like we're in a place now where we're confident in our linemates, we know what to expect from each other, and we're working with each other really well."
The Chaos have been so close to raising the provincial championship cup since joining the AJFHL in the 2016-17 season. They've been a team to contend with from day one, and have been the top team in the entire league for several of them. The cup, though, has been a few bad bounces away.
"Having been here for four years, we've felt the ups and downs and we know that this is the chance for some of us to put it away and make it happen this year," says Mueller. "We feel determined to make it happen."
The Chaos advanced to the final after beating the Calgary Titans two games straight.
Both the north and south division championships are best-of-three series and the provincial championship is best-of-five. Being the top team in the regular season, the Chaos have the home-ice advantage in all of their series.
The puck drops at 2:45 p.m. on Sunday.