The Red Deer Vipers are making their return to the Alberta Junior B Provincials, and this year they won’t be going as the hosts.
After posting an impressive 7-1 victory in game six of their HJHL North Division Final series against the Mountainview Colts at the Collicutt Centre on Friday night, the Vipers propelled themselves into the final with a dramatic 5-3 road victory on Saturday.
Heading into Friday night’s game, Red Deer trailed the Colts 3-2 in the best of seven series. It was a must win game and the Vipers responded to that.
Forward Spencer Yeats led the way for the Vipers in the contest, posting a hat trick and adding an assist for a four-point night.
“That whole line there, it’s clicking so well with Mack (Differenz), Kale (Lapointe) and Spencer Yeats. They’re finding each other, they’ve got a lot of chemistry right now and it’s at the perfect time. It’s the perfect time to get hot right now for them,” said Vipers’ Head Coach JD Morrical, adding that he was impressed with his entire team’s performance in the potential elimination game.
“Pretty much right from the start of the game to the end we played really well. We kept our composure. The ref really let us play tonight, both teams, and there was a lot of clutching and grabbing. Our guys in the past have kind of crumbled when it gets a little harder on them. I was super proud of them, they battled through it, didn’t argue too much,” he said.
That momentum continued into the seventh game, too.
Though neither team was able to break the scoreless tie in the first period, it didn’t take long in the second for the visitors to get on the board in the second. Just three minutes into the middle frame, Yeats came through again for the visiting team, tapping a one-timer past Colts’ goalie Thomas Della Siega to give his team a 1-0 lead.
From there it was all Red Deer. Vipers’ goaltender Branden Bilodeau was sensational between the pipes for the Vipers, stopping 40 of 43 shots he faced on the night to help steal a victory for his side and help them win the North Division championship and a ticket to provincials at least as an HJHL finalist.
Vipers forward Brett Hoppus contributed a pair of goals to the effort while Lane Sim and Bailey Lawson rounded out the score sheet.
Now, Red Deer’s focus shifts to their next big test as they prepare to take on the first place Cochrane Generals for the HJHL Championship series, which began on Tuesday night in Cochrane.
“We haven’t played them since November but we were the first team to beat them in their home rink this year and it was a big game for us. They are by far the most offensive team in the league and they have solid goaltending. Their power play is very dangerous so we have to stay out of the box to have success.
“It’s going to be an excellent test for our defensemen and a great series for us heading into provincials,” Morrical said.
The Red Deer Vipers are back in town this Saturday for game two of the HJHL League Final. Puck drop on that game is at 8 p.m.