It’s one the Red Deer Vipers can’t forget soon enough as they dropped a 7-4 road decision to the Airdrie Thunder, tying the HJHL North Final at two games apiece.
Jack MacCready opened the scoring for Airdrie 3:22 into the hockey game. Dante Raposo would add another before the first period was out.
The flood gates opened up for the Thunder in the second. Zach Giroux scored the first of three straight power play goals 58 seconds into the period. Raposo and Matt Thomson added the latter two. Thomson’s marker chased Vipers’ starting goalie Branden Bilodeau from the crease as Red Deer sought some kind of spark. Cole Sears, who came in cold, allowed Giroux to score on the first he faced to make it 6-0 Airdrie. Sears was near perfect after that.
The Vipers finally brought their A-game in the third period as Tristyn Zarubiak scored just two minutes into the frame to get Red Deer on the board.
Logan Linnell would rattle off three straight, two on the power play to bring the Vipers back to within a pair. The score, which had been 6-0 just minutes earlier, read 6-4 with 6:28 to play.
The Viper comeback would be stymied by penalties however and Brett Campbell would tack on another with the Thunder on a late power play.
Vipers’ Assistant Coach, Mike Stickland did not mince words on the loss post-game.
“Frustrating is the word we would use, we show that we can do it for 20 minutes a game. We’re better than that but we’re not going to have a better chance to win unless we can do it for 60 minutes.”
Stickland went on to say, “They bring that type of effort in the 3rd period the last two games, we’re a night and day different team but until we do that we will continue to put ourselves behind the 8-ball. You can’t always be fighting from the bottom.”
“Night & day” might be an understatement. The shots were 13-10 in the 1st and 11-11 in the 2nd. The 3rd period saw Red Deer out shoot their hosts 29-11, making the total for the game 50-35.
Red Deer’s next chance to get a good start under their belt will be in game five on Wednesday night at the Servus Arena at 8:30 p.m. The series will shift back to Airdrie on Friday night for game six with puck drop slated for 8 p.m.
Game seven, if necessary, will be in Red Deer on Saturday night at 8 p.m.
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