Despite a 6-1 loss at home against the Okotoks Bisons Sunday, Oct. 18, the Ponoka Stampeders are showing some improvements in their game.
The majority of the matchup was a relatively tight race with the Stampeders not giving up until the last few minutes of the third period. In the first period Okotoks managed to score three but Ponoka held on tight until late in the second period eventually scoring their first, goal bringing the score to 3-1.
Much of the game was a furious back and forth with the Stampeders making several key attempts on goal while keeping Okotoks at bay. They were unable to capitalize on several attempts on goal. Coach Tyler Fiveland said players have started to realize they can compete against most of the teams in the Heritage Junior Hockey League. Their challenge, however, is realizing they can win.
“The mistakes we made are mental mistakes,” said Fiveland.
“We’ve got to give those extra efforts; the dives for the pucks, the chips, that kind of stuff if we want the pucks to go in.”
During the break after the second period Fiveland said he let the players continue on with their strategies as they seemed to be working. They held the Bisons for much of the third period.
“They were playing well, so we let them go with it,” said Fiveland.
The trick, says Fiveland, is for players to capitalize on errors made by the other team. “We’ve gotta jump on them before they jump on us.”
Taking the Oct. 14 game against Blackfalds Wranglers as an example, Fiveland said Ponoka played well for much of the game. At the end of the second period the game was tied 3-3 but the experience the Wranglers have in a tight match, as well as strong showings over the years, game them the edge over Ponoka. “That’s a team that’s experienced. We’re gaining that experience.”
“They can do it if they keep going,” he added of the Stampeders’ potential.
The Stampeders’ next home games are Sat. Oct. 24 against Medicine Hat at 8 p.m. and then Oct. 25 against Three Hills at 2:30 p.m.