Icemen 3 Vipers 2 (2OT)
The Red Deer Vipers dressing room was silent following their 3-2 double overtime loss to the Wetaskiwin Icemen in the bronze medal game of the provincial junior B hockey championship at the Arena Sunday afternoon.
The only voice was that of head coach JD Morrical who was telling his troops not to hang their heads, they could be proud of themselves.
“It wasn’t what we wanted, but it was still a good showing,” said Morrical after leaving the room. “We were in every game. The first game (a 2-0 loss to the North Peace Navigators) we used to shake off some rust and the semifinal (a 3-1 loss to the Wainwright Bisons Saturday evening) with a little puck luck we could have won that game. We hit a couple of posts and missed a couple of breakaways, but that’s the way it goes.”
The Vipers could have easily struck bronze Sunday, but ran into a hot netminder in Red Deer native and former Leduc midget Joey Desrosiers, who finished with 49 saves. The Vipers had a pair of power plays in the second overtime and peppered Desrosiers with 10 shots, several of the close-in variety, but he didn’t break.
“Their goalie played very well,” said Morrical, who also praised his netminder Cole Sears.
Sears finished with 55 saves, before Telsen Luc snapped a shot from the left circle past him at 13:17 of the second extra session.
“The way Sears played all weekend it had to be a good shot to beat him,” added Morrical.
Neither team looked that sharp early on, and rightly so after getting off the ice after the semifinals after 10 p.m. Saturday.
“It’s tough going when you get off the ice at 10:30 and have to be back by 10:30 the next morning,” agreed Morrical. “As well the first two periods looked like teams with the bronze medal blues. But once we tied it it was on. Despite being tired the boys wanted to win this. There were no goons out there.”
The Vipers grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first period Sunday on a goal by Dustin Spearing at 1:22. Tristan Lindberg tied it at 16:10 of the second period and Luc gave the Icemen a 2-1 lead at 19:25.
However, Nick Glackin tied the game with a power play marker at 4:52 of the third period.
The Icemen took 11 of the 16 minor penalties.
On Saturday the Vipers edged the Killam Wheat Kings 3-2 to advance to the semifinal with a 2-1-0 record.
Spearing, who led the tournament with five goals, scored twice, including the game winner at 2:36 of the third period.
Tye Munro had the other marker as the Vipers led 2-0 after the first period and were tied at 2-2 after 40 minutes. Sears finished with 22 saves.
In the semifinal the Bisons led 1-0 after the first period on a goal by Zach MacKay with Spearing tying it at 9:53 of the second. However, Tiaan Anderson broke the tie at 13:26 of the second frame and Colby Schacher scored into an empty net in the third. Sears finished with 30 saves while his mates had 28 shots.
Meanwhile, the Navigators, who are from Peace River, edged the Bisons 3-2 to win gold and advance to the Western Canadian championship, April 14-17 in Regina.
It was a back-and-forth affair.
Dustin Long gave the Navigators a 1-0 lead in the first period and they held it until a wild third period. The Bisons tied it on a goal by Taylor Schubada at 7:37, Joseph Sylvain made it 2-1 for the Navs at 8:58 and MacKay tied it at 12:40 before Lowen Lambert got the winner at 13:13.
Riley Medves, who led the tournament with a 1.33 goals-against-average, finished with 32 saves for the winners while Cade Spencer made 34.
“Our goaltender was big for us,” said Navigators head coach Craig Fox. “He was our back up last year but without him this year we wouldn’t be where we are.”
Fox said the team was confident coming into the tournament.
“We had a good season and felt we had a good chance.”
He indicated defence was the key to victory.
“When you play strong defence and have a goaltender like we do we felt if we scored a couple of goals we could win any game.”
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at email@example.com. His work can also be seen at www.rdc.ab.ca/athleticsblog.