The Cochrane Chaos junior female team has its first two home games of 2023 this weekend (Jan. 14-15).
The top team in the south division of the Alberta Junior Female Hockey League is coming off a 2-1 road win over the Lethbridge Eagles last weekend.
Tonight at 7:30 p.m., they host a young Chinook Blazers team, who are in search of their first win of the season. Sunday, the Sherwood Parke Steele rolled into town for a 12:45 p.m. game.
While struggling a bit this season, the Steele remains one of the top teams in the north division and can't be taken lightly.
"I know they get up to play us, the way we get up for them," says Chaos head coach Derek Loomer. "It's exciting hockey, and we would like to have that atmosphere in the stands to help the girls out."
Loomer says the rivalry dates back to the first season of the Chaos seven years ago when they met the Steele in the provincial final.
"I still go back and remember the really weird goal they got in overtime that popped off of a pass from the corner that just sort of hit this girl's stick in front and fluttered over top of our goalie's shoulder," says Loomer. "That's still very vivid in my mind, so when we play Sherwood Park, I'm pumped, and I hope the girls are as well."
The Chaos style of play is different this season, but just as effective as in the past, and has allowed them to stay on top of the south. They've opened up a nine-point lead on second-place Lethbridge and are on track to finish first.
"We might not score as much as we did last year, but we're certainly not giving up the opportunities teams may have had last year. We're winning those tighter battles, mentally being a little more focused, and playing the full 60 minutes."
Point and case is their win against Lethbridge last Sunday. While the Choas dominated the play, outshooting them 41-17, the Eagles tied the score 1-1 at 13:12 of the third. It was Cochrane's Sarah Nusl that netted the winner from Kelly Stanford and Quinlan Laverdiere with 8:25 remaining.
"We got to play in a close game against a team we know is going to be in the mix in the playoffs, and we'll have to probably go through them to win in the south this year. I think we showed that we can play in a tight game like that. The thing I found is when they scored early in the third, our girls just stayed the course, got the opportunity to score to take the 2-1 lead again, and really gave them nothing after that."