Strong start for Rage in home opener

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October 8, 2015 8:15 AM

Andrew Brethauer Photo The Lloydminster Rage minor midget AAA hockey team is building towards two tournaments at the end of the year but they are already seeing positive signs that this could be a season where they earn another medal at provincials.

Orrin Centazzo scored twice during Saturday’s Lloydminster Rohan Rage home opener, while Keagan Rowland added three assists in a 3-1 victory over the Camrose Red Wings.

It was a great effort all-around from the minor midget AAA hockey team who brought a hardworking mentality to the season open and got a victory to kick off the start of the hockey season. For head coach Mike Applegate, he felt the team hustled and worked hard from the goalie out, and got many great scoring opportunities early. And while they didn’t capitalize on as many as he would have liked, the fact the opportunities were created so early in the season is a good sign of things to come.

“The guys are getting to the places to get the good scoring chances and that is a positive,” said Applegate. “You want to start on the positive side of things and build off that. Going forward, hopefully we can find a way to get points and keep building.”

Some players had a little difficulty adjusting to the faster pace of the minor midget hockey league after coming up from bantam, but for the most part, Applegate said they team did a great job quickly learning throughout the game about how fast the league can play at. Centazzo, who was drafted by the Everett Silvertips in this past springs WHL Bantam Draft, was one of the positives coming into the season after spending time at the Silvertips training camp. He joins Rowland, who was drafted by the Tri-City Americans, as the Rage’s two WHL prospects, who together combined for five points in the opening game of the season.

“We really hit the body and worked our hardest and everything just went our way,” said Centazzo. “We really got it started last week and it just carried on from there.”

Unlike other AAA programs in Lloydminster, the Rage won’t play a standard playoff structure at the end of the year, instead the Alberta Minor Midget Hockey League uses a tournament-style playoff structure, first in each division before moving onto provincials. Last season, Lloydminster finished seventh in the North Division, while the year prior they finished sixth. However, both seasons they made it through the North Division tournament and went to provincials, and both years they played in the bronze medal game, earning the medal last year.

Even though it may still be earlier to be thinking playoffs, for the Rage everything they do during the regular season is all about getting them prepared for the two tournaments that come at the end of the year. And already in the first game, Applegate said he is seeing things that will carry this team towards their goal of making the North Division tournament and earning a spot back in the provincial tournament, and hopefully bringing home another medal.

“We were aggressive throughout the game and in tournament style hockey you have to be aggressive,” said Applegate. “And our legs were there. Early on in the year that is a lot to ask. Our goal every year is to get to the provincial tournament and be one of the three best teams in the province. We have set up something over the last five years here that we want to keep up and that is to compete and battle. And by the end of the year where you finish is hopefully with a medal in the provincial tournament.”

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