Briercrest drops a close game to Red Deer
Briercrest faced off against the Red Deer Kings Saturday afternoon for the second game of their weekend series.
Like last night's game, the skating was fast and the checking tight from the outset. The Kings got the start they wanted and were able to draw an early penalty. They would strike on the powerplay before getting into some penalty trouble of their own. Taylor Epp and Josh Peters combined to set up Jacob Baribeau, who buried it to even the score and ignite the crowd. Some family and friends of the Red Deer players started a brief chant in support of the guests, but they were quickly drowned out by the large contingent of vocal Briercrest fans. Inspired by the support, Josh Peters had a good rush and several other shots were directed at the Kings' goal, but goaltender Kraymer Barnstable was solid. The guests added a goal to take a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes of action.
Briercrest kept grinding in the second period as play resumed. Josiah Friesen raced into the offensive zone and dropped a pass to Alex Bechtold, who rifled a perfect shot top corner to tie the game. The building was rocking and the goaltender could only shake his head.
Red Deer showed why they are one of the top teams in the league in the minutes that followed as they struck for a trio of goals and a 5-2 lead. Josh Dufresne responded on a powerplay with a slap shot that beat Barnstable cleanly. Some great hustle by Chad Davidson and puck pressure by Bechtold highlighted the rest of the period, but Briercrest was still down 5-3 with twenty minutes to play.
The home side dialed up the offensive pressure in the final frame and Mueller made a highlight reel save to keep things close. Brennan Gasmo was tenacious on the back-check, and Blayd Anholt intercepted a dangerous pass before sending the puck up ice, where BJ Pirus was robbed on a great chance. A scramble in front of Mueller ended with the puck in the back of the net for a three-goal Red Deer lead.
Briercrest's hard work resulted in another powerplay, and Josh Anderson scored to make it 6-4. The goalie was pulled for an extra attacker late, but the home team couldn't convert any of their several shots and the final buzzer sounded.
Red Deer head coach Trevor Keeper was impressed by what he saw from Briercrest and talked about the respect they've earned: "They were as physical, or more physical, than I've ever seen them... if you watch these two games you'd never guess Briercrest is in ninth place. They competed very hard and they're getting better every time... I've been here three years and they keep getting better, so it makes the league better, which we appreciate."
Players of the game were Josh Anderson for Briercrest and Tyler Berkholtz for the Kings. Briercrest heads toCalgary next weekend to play the SAIT Trojans before returning for games against the MacEwan Griffins January 22 and 23.
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