Vipers finish regular season on high

The Red Deer Vipers closed out their Heritage Junior B Hockey League regular-season schedule with an exclamation point Monday at the Arena.

Vipers 7 Stampeders 0

The Red Deer Vipers closed out their Heritage Junior B Hockey League regular-season schedule with an exclamation point Monday at the Arena.

And they’re heading into the post-season on a high after finishing first in the South Division.

“This was a good game to end the (regular) season,” said Vipers head coach Peter DeGraaf, following his club’s 7-0 win over the Ponoka Stampeders. “We played well, stuck to our systems and nobody got hurt. We’re healthy and fresh going into the playoffs.”

The Vipers finished atop the South with a 26-9-0-3 record and will be idle until meeting the winner of a series featuring the fourth- and fifth-place teams — Airdrie and Mountainview. Second-place Three Hills and third-place Blackfalds will tangle in the other South semifinal.

The Vipers improved over the second half of the season as the coaching staff added new wrinkles to the team’s offensive and defensive play.

“We just had even progression through the year. We just kept adding new things to what we were doing,” said DeGraaf. “Our plan was to get the basics under control early and then advance the team according to how well the players responded to the systems.

“We’re feeling good now. We’re going into the playoffs on a high note.”

Jeff Kohut fired three goals Monday, while Colten Brule, Cole DeGraaf, David Foord and Justin Corbett also tallied for Red Deer. Jarren Nickle and Brody Nydokus shared the shutout with 14 saves between them.

Logan Stebner stopped 47 shots for the Stamps, who fell to 4-33-0-0 and have one regular-season game remaining — Wednesday at 7:45 p.m. versus visiting Blackfalds.