Briercrest drops close contest with Red Deer
It was a tale of two halves as the Briercrest Clippers came up short Friday night against the Red Deer Kings.
Shaking off an early shorthanded goal by the Kings' captain, Briercrest controlled much of the first period with physical defensive play and quick passing. An errant high stick by Red Deer defenceman Alex Marcinew gave the home side their second power play opportunity of the evening, and a well-executed set piece from Micah Abbott and Brett Lafond sprung Dirk de Waal, who made no mistake in equalizing. De Waal struck again less than two minutes later, racing past a tangled up defender on a feed from Lafond and Stephen Langford to bring the fans to their feet celebrating a 2-1 lead. Connor Dobberthein was sharp in turning aside the Kings' attack in a push-back shift shortly afterward. Red Deer got a favourable bounce off a missed shot and was able to tie the game at two heading into the first intermission.
The start of the second period saw the Clippers maintain their strong play, imposing their will on the visitors with physical determination to the net and good mental discipline. Josh Anderson and Aaron Armstrong bent the Kings' defence, but weren't able to break it. In their own end, Mark Langford made his visiting family proud as he slid across to save a sure goal after Briercrest's goaltender was down and out after a flurry of saves. At the midway point of the period, shots were twenty apiece and Red Deer looked pretty happy to be tied up with the Clippers. A broken breakout would lead to a Kings' goal, and they would add another with 90 seconds remaining in the second to take control.
Briercrest fought hard in the third, but saw the shot total against them creep up as Dobberthein was tested with several quality scoring chances. Dirk de Waal had some in the crowd reaching for their hats as he stormed in on a breakaway, but Kraymer Barnstable turned him aside. Jacob Baribeau showed some craftiness in keeping the puck inside Red Deer's zone and trapping the tired guests as Briercrest applied late pressure, but the Clippers would not find an answer and the game ended 4-2.
Briercrest maintained their season long streak of being the less penalized team in the game, showing an impressive level of mental discipline. Players of the game were Dirk de Waal for the Clippers, and DJ McGrath for the Kings. The weekend series concludes Saturday afternoon at 2:00 pm.
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