It was something to build upon for the Ponoka Jr. B Stampeders.
In a game that went back and forth all night, it only took seven seconds for the local squad to reap some rewards for their hard work as the Stampeders slid past the Airdrie Thunder 6-5 in overtime at the Ponoka Culture and Recreation Centre on Saturday afternoon (Dec. 19).
Nate Higgins’ shot from the left side boards went top shelf over the shoulder of the Airdrie goalie not long after the puck dropped for the extra frame, snapping the Stampeders’ five-game losing skid.
The win still leaves them tied in last place with Stettler in the division, both with 16 points. The Stampeders did play Sunday afternoon in Banff, but the result was not available at press time.
“It was unreal,” stated Stamps head coach Tyler Fiveland about the victory, who wasn’t behind the bench for the game as a result of having to serve a one-game suspension for being ejected from their last home game on Dec.9.
“It was nice to see Roenick Minde, a new guy we brought in, have a big impact plus to be able to get (goaltender) Zeke Leuck a win he has so much deserved lately.”
In the game, after Airdrie opened the scoring just two minutes in, Jaizen Threefingers tied it for Ponoka with about five minutes gone in the first only to see Airdrie retake the lead with four minutes left in the frame.
However, the Stampeders would answer with two goals in 22 seconds as Higgins tied it with 1:25 left in the first, followed by a goal from Justin Van Tetering to make it 3-2 at the intermission.
The back and forth scoring would continue in the second with Airdrie tying it halfway through, then Ponoka’s Minde getting his first as a Stampeder with a little less than four minutes to go, only to have the visitors tie it again 44 seconds later.
Airdrie took the lead five minutes into the third with Austin Ancion tying the game at 5-5 three minutes later on a powerplay. Neither team had many good opportunities the rest of the frame, but all it took was one chance in overtime for the hosts to walk out with the win.
During much of their five game losing streak, the Stampeders looked like a squad with little to give, something Fiveland admitted had a lot to do with the schedule and was fixed somewhat by the 10-day break they had before this weekend.
“We had a lot of Wednesday night games this year, which is usually our practice night, so there hasn’t been many chances for us to work on things,” stated Fiveland.
“This past 10 days, we were able to get in some good work in practice and it’s really helped. The guys had a lot of jump, were skating hard, didn’t allow very many odd-man rushes. The only place we didn’t look good on was our powerplay, but it did click once and hopefully that is a sign of things to come.”
Fiveland added the break also seemed to help the guys relax and loosen up on their sticks, which seemed to translate into everyone working better together on the ice and maybe that will help them be able to build on the momentum during the holiday break as well.
The Stampeders are back on the ice in the new year, as they continue their five-game homestand with games against Three Hills (Jan. 9, 8 p.m.), Coaldale (Jan. 10, 2:30 p.m.) and Stettler (Jan. 13, 7:45 p.m.)
The club is also hoping to raise some more money as they are selling tickets to win a framed and autographed retro-orange Edmonton Oiler Connor McDavid jersey. The draw date is Feb. 29 with tickets being $10 each and available from any board member or player or at any upcoming game.