Vipers 10 Lightning 1
Now that is some sort of revenge.
Just six days after suffering their first Heritage Junior B Hockey League loss of the season, 3-2 at Stettler, the Red Deer Vipers avenged the setback in a big way on Monday, stinging the Lightning 10-1 at the Arena.
“It was sweet payback,” said Vipers first-year head coach Lloyd Cox. “We really forechecked hard and created opportunities tonight. Our guys were on their defencemen hard. They left the high slot wide open and we got some rebounds and got some good shots off.”
Cox, who last season coached the Rimbey Rock of the Heritage League and replaces long-time Vipers bench boss Mel Christensen, is a big believer in playing an aggressive style. And with the Vipers sitting first in the league’s North Division with a 6-1 slate, his players are clearly on board.
“You have to forecheck,” said Lloyd. “You can’t give the opposing players any time. If you give them time and space they can move the puck.”
The 2009-10 Vipers roster features a healthy mix of exuberance and experience.
“We have some good, hard-skating rookies and some quality veterans,” said Cox. “Plus, we’re getting some great goaltending. It’s looking all right.”
Among the returning forwards are team scoring leaders Drew Todd (5g,11a,16pts), captain J.D. Morrical (5-4-9) and Maverick Blair (1-7-8), while the list of rookie forwards includes former Red Deer Rebels prospect Justin Moir (3-3-6). Brennen Tymchyshyn, who played for Cox last season in Rimbey, has also been effective up front.
Veterans Josh Christensen, Devon Johnson and Justin Klassen anchor the Red Deer defence, which also features rookies Mario Cote, Bobby Reid and Joel Pelletier.
The Vipers are carrying four goaltenders with rookies Mike Stonehouse and Jason Pohl, returnee Brady Brookes and Joel Richard, who has previous Heritage League experience with Stettler and the Blackfalds Wranglers.
“They’re making the decisions tough for us. They’ve all had a chance to play and have played well,” said Cox, a former WHL defenceman (Seattle, Moose Jaw) who also suited up for the old Red Deer Rustlers of the AJHL in the ‘80s.
While the Vipers are cruising, Cox certainly isn’t looking past the club’s next game, versus the 6-0 Okotoks Bisons on Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Arena.
“Okotoks obviously has a very strong team and in our division Blackfalds will be good again. They have a lot of returnees,” said the Vipers coach.
Tymchyshyn fired three goals Monday night, with Todd scoring a pair and Cote, Blair, Morrical, Kiel Dunne and Patrick Amell each adding one for the Vipers. Brett Ouellette notched the lone Stettler goal.
Richard stopped 23 shots in the Red Deer net, while Garrett Laidler and Tanner Schalin combined to make 37 saves for Stettler. The Lightning were assessed six of 11 minor penalties and the teams split six fighting majors.