If the three games of the past weekend are any indication, the new head coach Tyler Fiveland may be on his way to achieving his stated goal of making the Ponoka Stampeders a playoff team in his first season.
Ponoka boys played one road and two home games over the weekend, and with strengthened team coordination, sharpened focus and skills and clearly heightened motivation, did surprisingly well, even improving their goal difference by scoring prolifically in the first two games.
Stamps first travelled to Stettler on Friday, Oct. 23 and defeated Lightning 7-3 on their home turf. Ponoka side opened scoring in the first period, putting three on the scoreboard and never looked back. They scored another three in the second and one in the third while Lightning tried to catch up with two scores in the second and one in the third. The interesting factor about the scoring was that seven Stampeders scored one goal each, a hint of the improved offensive execution over the last few weeks. Scorers were Jesse Fischer, Mik Doell, Kyle Skogen, Teegan Colonna, Cody Lemon, Brendon Scott and Jordan Wombold.
The next day, hosting Medicine Hat Cubs, Stampeders showed even a higher level of dedication to winning, never missing any opportunity to try to wrestle the puck away and succeeding in most tackles. Event though the Ponoka boys trailed at the end of the first, they staged a spectacular comeback in the second and exploded in the third scoring two and five goals respectively defeating the Cubs 8-3.Tyson Crampain and Cody Lemon each put two on the scoreboard with the rest of the tally being completed by Kwyn Hieber, Mik Doell, Nate Higgins and Justin McKenzie.
On Sunday, Oct. 25, when they hosted Three Hills, Stampeders held out well until the middle of the second when the score was still tied 1-1, but collapsed due to poor penalty killing in the last half of the second when Thrashers scored three back-to-back goals, all in power play. Although Ponoka side attempted a comeback in the third, scoring two goals, both of which were reciprocated, the effort proved too little too late: 6-3. Scorers for Stampeders were Hiebert, Crampain and Fischer.
Despite the improved stats over the weekend, Stampeders still sit second from the bottom of the Northern Division of the Heritage Junior Hockey League although they have played three more games from the bottom position Lightning of Stettler.
The playoff odds for Stampeders will depend on whether they can maintain their improvement in scoring skills.
Ponoka boys play their next home game on Saturday, Nov. 14 after two consecutive road games in Airdrie and Coaldale.