A fraction of a second is going to last a while in the minds of the Ponoka Moose Bantam squad.
After a rather successful couple of weeks, which included a 6-4 victory in Blackfalds on Saturday (Dec. 19), the Moose will be agonizing over falling at home Sunday (Dec. 20) 6-5 to Lacombe who got the winner with less than a second left to play.
To make it sting even more was the fact the Moose held a 5-1 lead early in the third period.
“It’s really tough,” said Moose head coach Ryan Raugust, following the loss Sunday.
“The boys have really been coming together, being accountable to each other and willing to into the tough areas while using their best talents to their advantage. They were good for 40 minutes, but I think they just lost their focus in that final 20. They got thinking about the big picture of what was lying in front of them (the holiday break), instead of keeping their eye on what they needed to do right now.”
Raugust added the team has been doing all of the right things lately – in learning and executing their systems – which has led to several wins and the idea that they can keep up with the larger, more physical teams.
“We can compete with anyone in this league, just so long as the team can keep their heads in the game and on the task at hand,” he said.
Lacombe took the lead with the only goal of the first, but Ponoka stormed out of the gate in the middle stanza – scoring four times in the frame. Mason Vogel tied it up just 19 seconds in, followed seven minutes later with a goal off the stick of Mathias Sandin to grab the lead. Cyle Laing would make it 3-1 three minutes later with Sandin netting his second of the game with just over six minutes to go in the period.
Ethan Little would make it 5-1 for the Moose one minute and 36 seconds into the third, scoring literally from his back after managing scoop up a loose puck in front and sliding it by the sprawled out Lacombe netminder.
However, it wasn’t long after that wheels stopped turning for Ponoka and practically fell off as Lacombe would score a pair before the midway point of the third, then capitalized twice on a four-minute powerplay to tie the game with about five minutes remaining.
Ponoka did have their chances, but either couldn’t get a handle on the loose pucks near the Lacombe net or their shots would find iron. In the final two minutes though, it was all Lacombe as they had the Moose pinned in their own end and wound up being able to bang home a loose puck for the winner just before the horn sounded to end the game.
In contrast, Saturday’s match up in Blackfalds saw the Moose make a great comeback, while also outshooting the host squad 37-26 on the night.
Jake Simanton got the Moose on the board 8:30 into the game, only to have league-leading Blackfalds score twice in a 20-second span later in the frame, then up the lead just 21 seconds into the second period.
The comeback didn’t get started until Sandin scored a powerplay goal just before the buzzer sounded to end the second period. That was followed by four straight for the Moose with Vogel scoring just over four minutes into the third, followed by Sandin’s second less that a minute later, then a pair from Simanton – the first at the halfway mark then his hat trick marker with just over two minutes remaining – sealed the victory.
The Moose now have a lengthy break – as do all of the Ponoka Minor Hockey teams – for the holidays. The Moose are next in action in Blackfalds on Jan. 2.
In other weekend action for Ponoka squads, the Midget Fountain Tire Wolves kept their winning streak alive by dumping Maskwacis 10-2 at home Friday, Dec. 18, then cruising past Hardisty/Hughenden in Hardisty Sunday by a count of 7-2; the Peewee A Elks fell 6-3 at home Saturday to Maskwacis; the Atom A McDonalds got a 3-2 road win Saturday in Sylvan Lake; the Atom C Calnash Trucking team clobbered Rocky Mountain House 12-4 Saturday in Ponoka; while the female Lacoka Midgets earned a 6-1 win Friday in Leduc.
Sunday results for both Ponoka Peewee clubs, both Atom teams and the Lacoka Peewee squad were unavailable at press time.