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Wranglers get bye after clinching first in division

The host Blackfalds Wranglers ran into a hot goaltender Sunday and dropped a 3-2 Heritage Junior B Hockey League overtime decision to the High River Flyers.

Regardless, the Wranglers finished first in the Northern Division — two points ahead of the Red Deer Vipers — and drew a first-round playoff bye.

Jared Williams and Stephen Pietsch were the lone Blackfalds players to beat Flyers netminder Cam Howell, who turned aside 44 shots. Layne Swier made saves for the Wranglers.

High River was assessed 10 of 13 minor penalties plus the lone major, misconduct and gross misconduct.

The Vipers closed out their regular-season schedule with a 3-2 win Friday over the host Three Hills Thrashers.

Cole DeGraaf tallied twice for the Vipers, who will face the Airdrie Thunder in a best-of-seven semifinal opening Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Arena.

Jeffery Kohut notched the other Red Deer goal and also picked up two assists, while Connor Ablett and Micah Abbott replied for the Thrashers, who got a 49-save performance from Devon Dell. Brenden Mandrusiak made 35 saves for the Vipers.

In other weekend Heritage League play:

l The Ponoka Stampeders closed out their season with a 7-5 road loss to the Medicine Hat Cubs, a 10-7 setback at Coaldale and a 5-5 draw at High River, and finished last in the Northern Division with a 1-36-1-0 record.

Ponoka, with just 11 skaters, got goals from Joshua Critch, Damien Pannenbecker, Jacob Cota, Evan Cox and Cody Lemon in the loss at Medicine Hat. Eli Falls made 48 saves for the visitors, outshot 55-39.

Ponoka, with 11 skaters dressed versus Coaldale, were outshot 68-24 by the Copperheads Saturday while getting two goals and a pair of helpers from Critch and single goals courtesy of Pannenbecker, Cox, Zach Bow, Brad Zimmerman and Bob Goodship. Aaron Swier made 58 saves for the Stamps.

The Stamps had 12 skaters at High River Friday and got a 46-save performance from Swier to gain their third point of the season. Scoring for Ponoka, which was outshot 51-30, were Critch with a hat trick and Cole Pritchard with a pair of goals.

l Michael Neumeier scored the lone goal for The Three Hills Thrashers in a 7-1 loss Saturday to the Mountainview Colts at Didsbury.

Brady Hoover turned aside 53 shots for the visitors, with Michael Byer blocking 51 at the other end.

The Thrashers, who finished fourth in the Northern Division, and the Colts, who placed fifth, will hook up in a best-of-three survivor series starting Wednesday at 8 p.m. at Three Hills.

The winner will face Blackfalds in a divisional semifinal.



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