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Ponoka Stampeders break winless streak at home

Ponoka Stampeders defeat Red Deer Vipers in tight 3-2 game
(Facebook photo/Ponoka Stampeders)

The Ponoka Stampeders Junior B hockey team has been completely rebuilt for the 2023 season — on and off the bench.

Bringing in an all new coaching staff and young talent to relaunch the team, it’s proving to be a rebuilding year as the players find their groove as a team.

The Stampeders started the Heritage Junior B Hockey League season 0-10, but picked up their first victory on home ice on Oct. 22 over the Red Deer Vipers.

The one-goal victory was a turn of fortunes from the last game with the two clubs, as the Vipers won that contest 5-2 on Oct. 6.

Perhaps eager for a rematch in front of the home crowd, the Stampeders rallied on Oct. 22, closing the gap and holding the Vipers to two goals the whole game.

“Lots of back and forth and great play from both squads, but in the end your all-new Ponoka Stampeders snapped a long winless streak and split the games this weekend and ended it on a high note,” the team posted on its Facebook page.

Ponoka drew first blood, with Ryan Kelly scoring his second goal of the year, late in the first period on a 5-on-3 power play.

Red Deer notched the only tally of the second period, with Luke Simanton scoring his first of the year at 8:08 of the frame.

Down a man with the game tied at one early in the third period, Brandon Harnack broke through the Red Deer defence in the neutral zone and on the breakaway, buried low glove side on Vipers netminder Josh Hilts.

Stampeders forward Jack Horrocks added his first of the year midway through the third, shoveling in a rebound to open up a 3-1 lead. The goal was also the first career HJHL tally for the 16-year-old.

On the power play with 3:44 remaining, Vipers forward Michael Bruce pushed home a loose puck in front of the Vipers net to cut the deficit to one.

Stampeders goalie Elliot Yu stood tall in the final minutes to earn the victory. He stopped 32 of 34 shots in the game, including 11 of 12 in the third period. Hilts stopped 32 of 35 shots in the loss for the Vipers.

Max Battle, Nathan Parker, Ryan Durocher, Dawson Slaney and Alexander McGregor all had assists in the win for Ponoka.

Red Deer was one-for-11 on the power play, while Ponoka went 1/9 on the man advantage. The two teams racked up 66 penalty minutes in the contest.

The Stampeder’s next regular season game is on the road against the Coaldale Copperheads on Oct. 28. Next, they’ll travel to Medicine Hat to play the Cubs on Oct. 29.

Their next home game is Saturday, Nov. 4, against the Cannex Cochrane Generals. The puck drops at 8:30 p.m. at the Ponoka Arena Complex.

Emily Jaycox

About the Author: Emily Jaycox

I'm a reporter for Ponoka News and have lived in Ponoka since 2015.
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