By Garrett Simmons
Sunny South News
The Coaldale Copperheads are off to a 1-1 start in Heritage Junior Hockey League play.
Coaldale capped off opening weekend on Sunday with a 5-4 loss at home against the Medicine Hat Cubs.
Saturday’s home opener featured a 6-5 win over the High River Flyers.
Coaldale raced out to a 2-0 lead in Saturday’s game, as Nathan Verloop’s goal opened the scoring for the Copperheads for the 2023/2024 season, at the 13:32 mark of the first. Adam Kennedy and Koden Lazar had the assists.
Drew Constant made it 2-0 on a goal assisted by Nolan Price. High River made it 2-1 after two periods, before the fireworks really started in the third.
The Flyers kicked off the scoring in the final frame with an early goal to tie it at two, and then took the lead with a shorthanded goal.
The lead didn’t last long, as Caden Heins scored on the powerplay to tie it at three, as Price and Griffin McCulloch drew helpers. Riley Potts made it 4-3 on a goal from Rylan Millo and Brandon Creighton, before Rylan Bruns made it 5-3, on a goal assisted by McCulloch and Heins.
High River refused to go away, as the visitors scored on the powerplay to make it 5-4. Price restored Coaldale’s two-goal lead moments later, on a marker assisted by Constant and Price.
High River scored with 2:01 left in the third to make it a nail-biting finish.
Coaldale outshot High River 27-26 in the contest, as Kaiden Fulton took the win in goal for Coaldale.
Sunday’s game was another back-and-forth affair, as the Cubs opened the scoring 6:34 into the game, before goals from Bruns and Lazar made it 2-1 Coaldale after one. Heins, Verloop and Payton Twigg picked up assists on the two Copperheads goals in the opening frame.
In the second, the Cubs tied the contest before Bruns and Verloop scored to restore Coaldale’s lead. Twigg and Heins assisted on the Bruns goal, as Lazar and Brinley Degenstein assisted on Verloop’s marker.
The Cubs scored with 2:24 left in the third, as the game hung in the balance heading into the final period, as Coaldale led 4-3.
But the final frame belonged to Medicine Hat, as the Cubs tied it up midway through the period and scored the go-ahead goal with 4:26 left in the game.
It was another tight game on the shotclock, as Coaldale outshot the visitors 27-22. Joseph Rolfson took the loss in net for the Copperheads.
Now, Coaldale prepares for the second weekend in regular season play, as the Copperheads will host Mountainview in a 7 p.m. game on Saturday at The Snake Pit.
On Sunday, Coaldale will host Cochrane in a 5 p.m. game, which will wrap up a four-game homestand to start the season.