The club’s latest loss has Matt Williams experiencing a love-hate relationship with his team.
The Ponoka Stampeders were edged out 5-4 on home ice by the Lomond Lakers, the newest entrant to the Heritage Junior B Hockey League, on Nov. 10.
It wasn’t so much the end result that had the team’s head coach Williams unimpressed, but the way that the Stamps got there.
“There were lots of positives. We scored some goals, but our defensive zone needs some work. You get up, but then give up two goals in one shift, that’s never good,” he stated.
Things got off on the wrong foot with Lomond opening the scoring just over three minutes in, but Ponoka showed some strength and rebounded quickly. About a minute and a half later, Odin Obray tied the game for the Stamps then the home side took the lead a minute later on a powerplay marker courtesy of Wade Lightburn.
Sam Eckert made it 3-1 Stamps 3:30 into the second period, but then the legs seemed to fall off for Ponoka.
Starting at the 6:39 mark of the middle frame, the Lakers would score three times in a span of less than two minutes and leave the Stamps reeling a bit.
Devin Anderson got the home team even just past the halfway point of the period, but a quick strike by the Lakers — capitalizing on a turnover in the Stamps end — just 30 seconds into the third would be the end for Ponoka.
Williams was impressed with the efforts of some on the Stamps roster, there was a definite sense that changes may come if things don’t improve.
“We have a young team, a team that needs to grow and we need some more players,” he stated, adding he also wants more of his roster to show up when it’s game time.
“This is junior B hockey, any team can beat anyone on any given night. There are no gimmes. People talk rest, people talk team, but it’s up to the guys in the room to show up and play hockey.”
While getting hold of the puck in their own zone was an issue that night, Williams was pleased with the club’s break outs.
“Our defence is doing a very good job of making a very crisp, solid first pass out of the zone on every shift. When they do that, we get the puck out of our zone,” he stated.
“Our forwards though need to do a better job of chip and chase, especially along the boards and winning those small battles for the puck. Tonight, three of their four goals were turnovers at our blue line.”
Williams added most of those were lazy or tentative plays at the line, so this team needs to continue to work hard and get better every time they step on the ice.
Back in the saddle: The Stamps are right back at it tonight (Nov. 14) as they play host to the second place club in the North division, the Red Deer Vipers. Game time at the Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex is 7:45 p.m. That will be followed by another big test for the young club on Nov. 17 as High River pays a visit to Ponoka. Puck drop for that one is set for 8:30 p.m.