By Lethbridge Herald on February 4, 2020.
The Coaldale Copperheads will take fourth place in the Heritage Junior Hockey League Southern Division.
The Copperheads were downed 6-1 by the Medicine Hat Cubs Friday night in Medicine Hat in a battle of two teams jockeying for a spot atop the close Southern Division.
However, Coaldale managed to close out their regular season on a winning note with a 5-2 win over the Strathmore Wheatland Kings Saturday night at the Coaldale Sportsplex as Isaac Benoit struck for a hat trick for the hosts.
That gives the Copperheads a 24-13-1 record and fourth in the South, two back of the Cochrane Generals (24-9-2) and four behind the Cubs (25-9-2), who still have three and two games left, respectively.
The Generals and Cubs have a home-and-home series Saturday and Sunday to determine who will get second place in the South and a bye through the first round of the playoffs.
The Okotoks Bisons have captured first place in the Southern Division and the league with two games to go with a record of 34-2-0.
On Friday night in Medicine Hat, the Cubs jumped out to a 3-0 lead after the first period and a 5-1 lead after 40 minutes on their way to the win.
Tyler Anderson scored Coaldale’s goal, while goaltender Brett Vanderveer took the loss, playing 45:22 and stopping 23 of 29 shots before backup Ethan Barrows came on in the last 14:38, stopping all six shots he faced.
The Wheatland Kings led 1-0 after the first period Saturday night at the Coaldale Sportsplex but two second-period goals from Benoit — his first on the power play — and Kole Fujita handed the Coppereheads a 3-1 lead.
Fujita added his second of the game in the third period before Benoit completed his hat trick bid with with another man advantage goal midway through the third.
Fujita added an assist for a three-point night and Jayden Bexte had a pair of helpers.
Barrows earned the win, turning aside 28 of 30 shots.
With his three goals Saturday, Benoit reached the 30-goal mark in 34 games and led the Copperheads in regular season scoring with 54 points.
Bexte was a close second with 18 goals and 51 points in 38 games.
Barrows went 13-4-0 this season, while Vanderveer was 5-5-0. Brock Merkl was 7-8-0.