Plenty of fight in Ponoka Wolves

By Charles Tweed

Analysis

The Ponoka Wolves midget team found themselves in tough in the second round of the league championship. Ponoka finished the season with a .500 record, 11-11-4, good for third in the league.

After dismantling the Thunderstars midget team in the quarter-finals by a two-game total-score of 18-5, the Wolves faced the Kneehill Chiefs in the semifinals.

Kneehill finished second in the league, 15-8-3, and won the season series 2-1 over Ponoka — all three games were decided by one goal.

The Wolves hosted game 1 in Ponoka but it was Kneehill who set the tone.

Less than five minutes into game, the Chiefs struck — they would strike twice more in the period and score the opening two goals of the second to take a commanding 5-0 lead.

The Wolves finally got on the score sheet halfway through the second period. Lynden Klinger banged home a great cross-crease pass from Tyson Simanton on the power play. Two minutes later — déjà vu — on the powerplay Tyler Bell slide the puck past the Kneehill goalie off a great feed from Simanton.

The goals seemed to energize the Wolves, as they carried the play, pressing for the third goal to close the gap to two. But as so often happens the opportunities spoiled at one end turned into a goal at the other, putting Kneehill back up four.

Bowin Brachmann scored before the period was out to make the score 6-3 after 40 minutes.

In the third, Kneehill put it out of reach, scoring three times. The lone Ponoka marker came from Landon Schultz, making the final 9-4.

The game was a chippy contest with one misconduct and 22 minor penalties — 20 of which came in the final two periods.

Off the ice, it’s been a long time since I’ve felt embarrassment for fans at the rink, which should tell you most fans are really good considering I find myself at the rink a lot.

The game had two incidents that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

The first incident involved kids. Some over-exuberant youngsters took it upon themselves to yell obscenities at the opposing Kneehill goalie. In a lot of ways, I expected it. I can’t honestly say I wouldn’t have done it myself if I was that age. It garnered some cheap laughs from friends and let everyone know he’s not afraid to live a little dangerously. I was impressed, however, when one of the boys told his friends to ‘shut up, already.’

I have no doubt the kids will grow out of this attention-seeking stage, but for one kid to take it upon himself, to stand up against the grain, showed maturity and real sense of moxie.

The second incident made my spine tingle. It’s what can happen when people don’t grow out of previous said stage. In this case, two Kneehill fans were shouting during the game. The ref seemed to bear the brunt of most of their scorn. First of all, I’ve always subscribed to the rule that if you don’t have a stick in your hand and skates on your feet you probably should reserve most of your judgment till after the game. Secondly, everyone knows you don’t celebrate in the stands when your team scores to go up 9-3. Granted if it’s a 3-3 game and your team scores in overtime, go crazy. When it’s the ninth goal, quietly fist pump inside, knowing if you don’t, the game has a funny way of evening itself out.

Game 2 of the series took place March 11 at the Three Hills Centennial Arena.

Ponoka jumped out to the early lead getting two short-handed makers from Tyson Simanton. Kneehill responded late in the period to cut the deficit in half, after one period it was 2-1 for Ponoka.

In the second the goaltenders stole the show. The Chiefs’ Dylan Kolner and Wolves’ Kellan Williams were perfect in the middle frame turning aside all the rubber they saw.

In the third, Ponoka scored three more times. Twice on the power play, one from Bowin Brachmann and the other from Tyler Bell. The other goal was an even strength tally from Brandon Wagstaff. Kneehill responded with two of their own to make the final 5-3 for Ponoka.

The teams split the series at one game apiece meaning total goals scored would break the tie. Unfortunately for the Wolves, Kneehill scored three more times and advanced to the league final against the Rimbey Renegades.