Ponoka Stampeders ready for new challenge

Following up on their first playoff appearance in a decade, the Ponoka Stampeders are ready to buck out of the chute this season.

Following up on their first playoff appearance in a decade, the Ponoka Stampeders Junior B hockey club are ready to buck out of the chute this season.

The Stamps will return to the ice this coming weekend filled with optimism and the same coaching staff as last season, where the club made the playoffs literally on the last day of the season with a victory over the Red Deer Vipers.

Unfortunately, they would wind up facing those same Vipers in the opening round of the playoff and got snake-bitten, scoring just once in their pair of losses.

Tryouts for the many Stamps hopefuls kick off on Friday, Sept. 2 with four days of work, followed on Monday, Sept. 5 with an exhibition game in Wetaskiwin against the Icemen who play in the Edmonton-based Capital Junior Hockey League. Players interested in participating in the tryout camp are encouraged to contact Stamps general manager Denny Pannenbecker via email at stampsjrb@hotmail.com.

That is followed up with the club’s main training camp, which begins Tuesday, Sept. 6, and will include more exhibition play with games at the Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex on Saturday, Sept. 10 versus Wetaskiwin (6 p.m. puck drop) as well as a pair of contests against the Vegreville Rangers of the Northeast Alberta Junior Hockey League on Friday, Sept 16 (6 p.m.) and Sunday, Sept. 18 (8 p.m.).

However, this being junior B hockey, there is a bit of a twist as the Stamps open their regular season schedule before they complete their exhibition slate as they will be in Red Deer to take on the Vipers on Saturday, Sept. 17.

And if that wasn’t an odd enough start to the season for the Stamps, they will play their next four games on the road in Three Hills, Coaldale, Medicine Hat and Cochrane before they host High River in their home opener on Saturday, Oct. 8 (game time 8 p.m.), which will be the first of four straight on home ice.

Hoof prints The hockey club is hosting a pre-season camp for all ages of minor hockey players next week. The camp will run several sessions with many Stampeders players and coaching staff operating the on-ice camp. The hour-long sessions for atoms runs Sept. 6-9 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and from 1 to 2 p.m. on Sept. 10; for peewees on Sept. 6-9 from 6:45-7:45 p.m. and from 2:15 to 3:15 p.m. on Sept. 10; and for bantam/midget players from 8 to 9 p.m. on Sept. 6-9 and Sept. 10 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. The camp concludes with the players invited to come to Stamps game on Sept. 10. Those interested can register by email (stampsjrb@hotmail.com), filling out the form on their website (www.ponokastampeders.ca) or heading the Stamps booth at Ponoka’s annual community registration night on Wednesday, Aug. 31 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Kinsmen Community Centre.