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September 22, 2018 September 22, 2018

Copperheads rally after tragedy

Posted on March 6, 2018 by Sunny South News
Photo by Nikki Jamieson

Copperheads move to next round in playoffs after losing one of their own

Coaldale Copperheads

The Coaldale Copperheads faced the most adversity in its 11 year history this past weekend.

The team learned Wednesday number 26, Morgan Simpson had been involved in a serious single vehicle accident and in very critical condition.

With the best of five playoff series with the High River Flyers in full swing, the team was hopeful Morgan would pull through although the odds were against him.

The team started rallying for their teammate fighting for the series for #twosix. (26)

While the team was traveling on the bus for game four the team received word Morgan had passed away hours before game time.

As the bus kept heading north, bucking through a drifted, cold highway #2, the team let the news settle in and with much emotion decided to play for Morgan. Encouraging words to help the team take one step forward were from Morgan after losing game 3. Morgan said, “Cheads in Five”

High River was notified of the situation and provided the team with unwavering support. The entire High River team, players and staff met the Copperheads in the visiting dressing room, offered condolences and provided a Chaplin for prayer and support; the Chaplin having deep hockey roots as a father of a professional hockey player.

The Copperheads got off to a strong start and Jayden Bexte of the Copperheads struck first, scoring at the 26 minute-26 second mark of the game.

Something bigger then hockey is at work when you score at exactly at the number of your deceased team mates number.

Bexte scored again to make it two nothing, but the Flyers fought back and tied the game at .42 seconds left in the third, forcing overtime.At 10:51 of overtime Coaldale native Chase Williamson shoveled in a rebound from a shot on net from Riese Nevil to force a fifth and deciding game back in Coaldale Saturday night. Andrew Suriano was the winning goaltender for game four.

As you can expect, the Snake Pit in Coaldale was packed with the fans, and emotions were running high.

A beautiful tribute to Morgan was given, with Morgans parents and twin and only brother in attendance. Morgan’s brother, Ryan, is the starting goaltender for the Airdrie Thunder, who also earned a berth into the north division final. The family felt they wanted to be at the game and give their support to the Copperheads who have given so much back to their son.

The Copperheads kept up the pace from Fridays game and were relentless in the High River end.

Top notch goal tending from veteran Chance Vinck which finished out the series with a .944 save percentage, was key to the close scoring game. Ty Anderson scored late in the first at  4:58.

Ty Abbott notched a power play marker at 11:44 of the second to make it 2-0. High River, on two man advantage power play late in the second, put one past goaltender Nolan Berner to close out the period 2-1 Copperheads.

The third was a hard fought battle on both sides, but no scoring resulted in the 2-1 victory for Coaldale. “Cheads Wn in Five” with desire and determination all for No. 26 Morgan Simpson sending them to the south division finals.

The Okotoks Bisons, who eliminated Cochrane early in the week and finished second in regular season, will be the opponent in the best of seven series.

Game one of the best of seven finals versus the Bisons goes Wednesday night at the Snake Pit, puck drop 8:15.

Game two is on Friday in Okotoks, and game three will be back at home in the Pit at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday.

A celebration of life for Morgan will be announced shortly and most likely will be on Saturday as well. The Copperheads would like to thank all the love and support we have been receiving in regards to this difficult time for the organization.

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