Vipers bite back, stay alive in series with Wranglers
There were no alternatives for the Red Deer Vipers.
It was do-or-die Wednesday night at the Arena and they weren’t about to be buried on home ice. That determination paid off big time as the Vipers skated to a 5-0 win over the Blackfalds Wranglers in front of close to 250 fans.
The Wranglers still lead the best-of-seven Heritage Junior B Hockey League Northern Division final 3-1 with Game 5 scheduled for tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Blackfalds Multiplex.
“We played a full 60 minutes tonight, that was the difference,” insisted Red Deer coach Stephen Pattison. “There were no letdowns. The boys just followed the game plan for 60 straight minutes.”
The Vipers got the only goal they needed from Cole DeGraaf, a power-play marker 11:13 into the contest. Chris Robertson added another man-advantage tally in the second period and the home side added three more goals in the final frame.
Justin Corbett connected just 1:24 into the final frame, burying a feed from Tanner Howe, and Kolton Gillett upped the count to 4-0 less than two minutes later, converting a corner pass from Jeff Kohut.
Kohut closed out the scoring with a power-play marker at 18:08, working out of the corner and beating netminder Layne Swier to the short side.
“The only game we’ve lost here (Arena) in regulation time all year was Game 2 of this series,” said Pattison. “So the guys felt confident coming into this game. The job is only a quarter done though. I expect Blackfalds is going to come out tomorrow night and try and get this series done.
“It will be important for us to just take it a period at a time and a shift at a time and hopefully we’re playing back here Saturday (Game 6 is tentatively set for 8 p.m. at the Arena).”
Front and centre in the Red Deer victory Wednesday was netminder Brenden Mandrusiak, who turned aside all 34 shots he faced and will get the call again tonight.
“He’s a solid goaltender and he’s really found his stride,” said Pattison. “The guys have a lot of confidence in him.”
Garret Montour, who started, and Swier combined to make 33 saves for the Wranglers, who were assessed 10 of 18 minor penalties, including four of five in the second period.