Three straight losses last week along with some uninspiring play has caused some concern for the Stampeders coaching staff.
The local Junior Heritage League squad were felled 9-2 at home by Blackfalds last Wednesday, Dec. 2, then lost 3-1 to the Mountainview Colts in Didsbury on Friday, Dec. 4 and were dumped 7-5 the next night at home by those same Colts.
Stampeders head coach Tyler Fiveland wasn’t happy with the performances of most of his players in any of the three games, but was especially disappointed with the efforts put forth in both home ice appearances.
“Our biggest problem is once things stop going our way or a call goes against us, the guys can’t seem to stop the bleeding,” Fiveland explained.
“It’s like they get a huge mental block, then more things go wrong, they get down on themselves further and it all just keeps snowballing until we’re done for, we just can’t seem to gain any momentum and refocus on what needs to be done.
Fiveland added that’s exactly what happened against Blackfalds and on Saturday at home when they couldn’t fight back after giving up five straight goals to the Colts.
“There were a couple of calls that I think were missed and it affected us. It’s something we have to be able to overcome and that was what we took some time after Saturday’s game to talk about. We also need to really work hard on getting more shots and driving the net, as we had four goals on just 12 shots through two periods in that game,” he added.
“It’s just what we have to do. We need to correct this heading into our game against Airdrie (Wednesday Dec. 9, 7:45 p.m. start), who we blew a 5-0 lead against the last time we played them.”
In Saturday’s loss, the Stampeders were given a kick in the pants right off the opening faceoff as the Colts opened the scoring just 33 seconds in. Ponoka managed to find their stride later in the frame, with Justin Van Tetering tying it up just past the eight minute mark and DJ Horne notching a powerplay goal about seven minutes later to give the home side the lead after 20 minutes.
The visitors evened things up early in the second period before the Stampeders scored twice more – both off the stick of Nate Higgins – just short of seven minutes in and then a powerplay goal close to the halfway mark of the contest.
Then the wheels fell off the wagon and ran over the Stampeders, as the Colts scored three times in a two-minute span late in the middle stanza and followed that with another just 32 seconds into the third before salting things away with their fifth straight goal with less than 10 minutes remaining.
Cody Lemon would get a powerplay goal with slightly more than three minutes to play, but there would be no comeback.
Friday’s contest was a winnable one, according to Fiveland, but two huge mental lapses in the form of a powerplay goal and giving away a shorthanded effort cost them.
“Zeke (Leuck) was phenomenal in goal for us, but some stupid penalties and breakdowns keep costing us,” he said about the game where the Stampeders were also with their top forward line. Tyson Crampain had the lone Ponoka goal, which came with four and a half minutes to play.
Versus Blackfalds last Wednesday, Mik Doell scored midway through the first to cut the Wrangles lead to 2-1, but some bad penalties in the second saw the momentum shift with the visitors capitalizing for five straight goals the rest of the way before Jordan Wombold notched a powerplay marker with about three minutes left to close out the scoring.
Stampeders are hosting their annual free family skate on Sunday, Dec. 13 between 12:15 p.m. and 1:45 p.m. at the Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex.