The Red Deer Vipers almost squandered any momentum they gained off their win over the first place Blackfalds Wranglers over the weekend on Monday.
After a hairy opening 30 minutes, the Vipers finally found their legs and closed out the last place Ponoka Stampeders 5-3 in Heritage Junior B Hockey League action at the Red Deer Arena.
The win followed a 5-1 victory over the Wranglers on Saturday, handing them their first regulation loss of the campaign, but this did not look like the same team as two days previous.
“I think it was we were so high and I think we thought we could just show up tonight and not put an effort in and get the two points,” said Vipers head coach JD Morrical. “We lucked out tonight we at least came with an effort in the third period to get (a goal) and played just good enough to win.”
Cole deGraaf led the Vipers with two goals and an assist while Dustin Spearing also scored twice and Captain Justin Corbett once. Lane Congdon made 35 saves for the win, though he looked shaky on at least two of the Stamps goals.
Teegan Colonna replied with two goals for Ponoka while Tye Munro got the other. Eli Falls made 38 saves in the loss.
The Vipers actually did most of their scoring in the first half of the game when they were being dominated by the Stampeders.
The opened up a 3-1 lead in the first period on two goals by Spearing and Corbett’s marker, but Ponoka cut the lead to one goal a with 36 seconds left in the frame and held a 16-9 lead in shots at the break.
Ponoka controlled the first 10 minutes of the second period, scoring the equalizer at 4:13, and held Red Deer without a shot on net for the first 10 minutes.
But finally, the Vipers turned it around and took over the game. It all turned on deGraaf’s power-play goal at 11:44 with Ponoka’s Braedon Grant in the box for cross checking.
After that the Stampeders lost their composure and Red Deer never looked back.
deGraaf added his second of the contest at14:07 of the third period to effectively put the game on ice.
The win sends Red Deer into the Christmas break on a two-game winning streak and some positive vibes as they try to turn around a frustrating opening two-thirds of the season.
“I think they need a little bit of a break, they need a little bit of time to themselves to just get back on track and come back focused in the new year,” said Morrical.
NOTES — Ponoka finished 2-for-5 on the power play while Red Deer was also 2-for-5 … Red Deer’s next game is Jan. 3 at 8 p.m. when they host the Three Hills Thrashers at the Red Deer Arena.