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Red Deer Vipers eliminated from playoff contention

HJHL season officially wrapped up
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Logo of the Red Deer Vipers Junior B hockey team. (File photo/ Red Deer Advocate staff)

The Red Deer Vipers were eliminated from playoff contention following the conclusion of the regular season.

The Vipers trailed the Airdrie Techmation Thunder for the sixth and final playoff spot in the north division in the Heritage Junior B Hockey League (HJHL).

Just two points behind the Thunder, the Vipers dropped a pivotal matchup in Airdrie 8-4 on Friday to fall behind by four points with two games to go.

The Vipers bounced back with an overtime thriller to beat the Strathmore Wheatland Kings 6-5 at Servus Arena in Red Deer. Despite that, the Vipers still trailed the Thunder by two in the division.

In their final regular season game of the year on Sunday, the Vipers were blown out by the north division’s top Sylvan Lake Wranglers 7-1 at home.

Even if Red Deer were able to pull out that win and tie Airdrie in the standings, the Thunder would have held the tiebreaker for scoring more goals in head-to-head matchups with the Vipers.

As a result, the Vipers fell short of their goal this season and finished with a 12-26-0 record.

Last season, the Vipers wrapped up the 2022-23 campaign with a similar record of 12-24-2. They made the playoffs because of the Ponoka Stampeders’ absence from the league but were eliminated in the qualifying round by the Rocky Rams.

Red Deer will now say goodbye to graduating defenceman Brandon Kalinowski, who recently hit the 100-game milestone, after playing four seasons for the Vipers.

On Facebook, the Vipers posted a thank you message to their fans after their season wrapped up on Sunday.

“That will do it for our season. We will be back next year stronger than ever,” as written in the post. “Thank you to our sponsors, volunteers, fans, and family members for making this season possible.”

The number one-seeded Sylvan Lake Wranglers will now take on the winner of the best-of-three series between the Three Hills Thrashers and the Airdrie Thunder. That qualifying series will begin on Wednesday, Feb. 21.

Meanwhile, the third-seeded Rocky Mountain House Rams will take on the second-seeded Mountainview Colts in a five-game series that begins on Saturday, Feb. 24.



Ian Gustafson

About the Author: Ian Gustafson

Ian began his journalism career as a reporter in Prince Albert, Sask. for the last three years, and was born and raised in Saskatchewan.
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