It certainly wasn’t the start the new coach wanted to see out of the gate for the Ponoka Stampeders.
The Stamps opened the season on the road in Didsbury facing the Mountainview Colts Sept. 22 and were dumped by a score of 6-4. That was followed two days later when the club played their home opener against the Red Deer Vipers and were blanked 4-0.
Despite the Stampeders out-shooting the Colts overall 39-30 on the night, the Ponoka squad couldn’t seem to keep the puck out of their net early on. Mountainview scored three times in the first and added another a few minutes into the middle stanza before the Stamps got on the board. That goal came courtesy of Shae Reynolds at the 11:45 mark of the second.
The Colts increased the lead later in the period, though the Stamps got things going in the third and put some pressure on their opponent.
Taite Opdendries got Ponoka’s lone powerplay marker — the club went one for 11 with the man advantage in the game — just 1:24 into the final frame. That was followed 10 minutes later with a marker by Nate Higgins then the lead was cut to one when Kieran Bulloch scored at the 14:16 mark.
However, the game was sealed in the final minute by an empty-netter with the Stamps Taylor McLawghlin, who stopped 25 shots on the evening, on the bench for the extra attacker.
As for the home opener Sunday, special teams were the big issue as both teams parade to the penalty box was nearly as long as a historic July long weekend event in Ponoka. The Stamps gave up 11 powerplays while the Vipers killed off 10 powerplays.
Red Deer scored twice in the first, both with the man advantage, and then again twice in the third, the final one coming on the powerplay. The Vipers also beat the Stamps on the shot clock by a count of 34-27, outshooting the home side 15-6 in the third.
Hoof prints – Next up for the Stamps is hitting the trail south on Saturday to face the Cochrane Generals, who are also 0-2 following the opening weekend of play. It will be a quick turnaround for the club though, as they play host to the Okotoks Bison in yet another Sunday afternoon tilt at the Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex. Game time is 3 p.m.