You couldn’t have a more fitting end to the hockey season for Ponoka’s Midget B Stampeders Tier 3 hockey team. They won the league banner in Ponoka last week.
Ponoka beat the West Country Midget Chiefs in the second game of the finals series March 19 in what some might call a nail-biter. The Stampeders were able to hold on to a narrow lead throughout the game but the Chiefs were close behind. Each time Ponoka scored, the Chiefs would return the favour.
Indeed, in the last minutes of the game, Ponoka was ahead 4-3 and the Chiefs kept the pressure on by taking their goalie out and adding a sixth player on the ice. This forced Ponoka’s goalie, Justin Hyink, into high gear. Despite the pressure, the Stampeders held on to their lead, earning them the banner.
At the end of the second period the score stood at 4-3 for Ponoka. Coach Dwight Hunks said he reinforced the players’ confidence during the break and sent his team to face off against the Chiefs in the third period. The last few minutes were the most challenging.
“It was a tense time but I wasn’t really that nervous,” said Hunks.
He feels his players have strong discipline and suggests they knew how to be consistent during the game. He considered the beginning of the year and said the team was losing more games than they won.
The team’s skills grew however, and the Stampeders became a “.750 team”, meaning they were winning much more games than they were losing.
“They all bought into the system. Good teammates, great attitude,” stated Hunks.
He had four rules for them to follow:
• Have fun
• Control your effort, work hard
• Be a respectful team
• Listen to coaches
He feels players bought into these principles and despite issues with injuries, the Stampeders performed well. “Really, just a great bunch of young men.”
Coaching staff, parents and players helped bring the team to a strong finish, he added.
“They built that team. The icing on the cake was the championship … A really good year,” said Hunks.