Alex Hustad scored twice and Kade Taplin made 31 saves to lead the Airdrie Thunder to a 5-4 Heritage Junior B Hockey League playoff win over the visiting Red Deer Vipers Sunday.
The best-of-seven North Division semifinal is tied 1-1 with the third game set for Thursday at 7:45 p.m. at the Arena.
Jeffery Kohut potted two goals for the Vipers, who got singles from Justin Corbett and Chris Robertson.
Brendan Mandrusiak turned aside 27 shots in the Red Deer net.
The Airdrie power play proved to be the difference, with the hosts going four-for-eight with a man advantage.
The Vipers, with Kolton Gillett firing three goals and Jonathan Finnigan and Jordan Koopmans each notching a pair, throttled the Thunder 10-2 in the series-opener Saturday at the Arena.
Also scoring for Red Deer — which was a blazing eight-for-nine on the power play — were Ryan Thomson and Colten Brule. Mandrusiak turned aside 25 shots, while Taplin and James Fisk combined to make 48 saves for Airdrie.
In the other North semifinal, the host Blackfalds Wranglers blasted the Mountainview Colts 9-4 Sunday to grab a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven set.
Trent Hermary turned in a hat-trick performance for the Wranglers. Jason Bell, Jared Kambeitz, Chance Abbott, Jared Guilbault, Jared Williams and Landon Wolitski each added a single goal and winning netminder Layne Swier made 33 saves.
Mike Byer and Brendan McCambly faced 49 shots in the Mountainview net. The Colts were assessed four of seven minor penalties, with the Wranglers picking up the lone major and misconduct.
The second game goes Tuesday at Didsbury, with the clubs returning to Blackfalds for a third contest Thursday.
On Friday, Mountainview advanced to the semifinals with a 5-1 victory over the visiting Three Hills Thrashers.
The Colts swept the best-of-three survivor series.