Vipers 7 Colts 4
The Red Deer Vipers (13-14-1) appear to have found their game as they head into the Heritage Junior B Hockey League’s home stretch.
With their 7-4 win over the Mountain View Colts (17-11-2) on Monday at the Red Deer Arena, they have won four of their three of their first four games in the new year and five of their last six games overall.
The one hiccup was a short-handed 9-5 loss in Banff to the Bears (8-20-3) on Jan. 4.
“(Mountain View) is a team we are trying to catch to get in a better position for playoffs, so it was a huge win for us,” said Vipers head coach JD Morrical.
The Vipers were coming off a 9-2 win over the Bears at the Arena less than 24 hours earlier.
On Monday, Brett Hoppus scored twice to lead the Vipers while Dustin Spearing had a goal and two assists. Matthew Thiessen, Brett Marsollier, Justin Corbett and Colton Weseen also tallied for Red Deer while Munro made 32 saves for the win.
Evan Thompson, Jacob Vander Saag, Colton Anderson and Cole Sutherland responded with one goal each for the Colts. Jake Carlson made the start and stopped 15 of 19 shots before being replaced at 6:34 of the second period. Thomas Della Siega stopped nine of the 11 shots he faced in relief.
The game was 2-2 through 20 minutes, but Thiessen scored 38 seconds into the second period to put the Vipers up one goal.
The the dam broke open completely.
The Vipers went on to score three goals in 1:20 starting with Marsollier’s power-play marker at 6:34 to chase Carlson. Corbett scored another power-play goal at 7:29 and then Weseen capped the onslaught at 7:54, burying a rebound off a two-on-one rush.
The Colts controlled the play in the third period but could only get one more past Munro while Hoppus added an empty-netter.
At the centre of the Vipers resurgence has been the play of Munro who has finally taken over the No. 1 job in net, separating himself from the three-goalie competition with Lane Congdon and Rylan Bardick that has persisted since training camp. Munro has picked up the win in all three victories since Christmas.
“I don’t know what it is about Munro, but the boys play harder for him than they seem to for the other two goalies,” said Morrical. “That’s fine with me, as long as we block shots and do what it takes to help Munro out as much as they can and he’s stopping the pucks he has to stop.”
The Vipers are back in action on Saturday when they host the Airdrie Lightning (19-9-2) at 8 p.m. at the Arena.