Stampeders Wyatt Avery watches as the puck sneaks through the Calmar goaltender then past the post and over the goal line for Ponoka’s first goal, cutting Calmar’s lead to 2-1 in the opening frame. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

Ponoka’s bantam team battles through tough weekend games

Team makes huge comeback to earn a point, then get tuckered out

It was a resilient weekend for the Ponoka bantam Stampeders that saw the team play significantly shorthanded in a pair of home contests.

The club earned a hard fought point in the Northern Alberta Interlock tier III east division coming from behind with a 6-6 draw on Jan. 4 versus Camrose before falling 7-3 the next evening to Calmar.

Wyatt Avery got Ponoka off to a great start against the undefeated Camrose club, opening scoring just past the midway mark of the first period on a soft shot that eluded the netminder. However, part way into the frame Ponoka lost one player to injury, something that wouldn’t be a bother except that the squad had only started with 10 skaters.

That factored into Camrose taking over for a while, scoring three times in the final six minutes of the first then adding three more over 14 minutes of the second.

However, the home side didn’t give up — keeping things close on the shot clock despite showing signs of fatigue.

Avery kicked off the comeback with his second goal of the night just past the 15 minute mark to bring Ponoka within four.

And either the Stampeders found an extra boost or Camrose started to fade, but the third period was all Ponoka.

Luke Simanton score just over two minutes in, followed by Avery’s hat trick marker slightly more than two minutes later. Avery added another, with the goalie out for an extra attacker, with 49 seconds left and then came the dramatics.

Ponoka was hemmed in their own end after the faceoff, but created a late rush that ended in a goal on a point shot from Sam Evans with 8.9 seconds remaining to salvage a point. The tie also ended Camrose’s undefeated streak from the start of the season.

Unfortunately, the Stampeders weren’t able to retain that magic touch as they started against Calmar with just nine skaters and ran out of gas early on.

Luke Simanton scored twice in the first then got the hat trick in the second, but the visitors capitalized on their very limited opportunities by scoring three times in the first then added a pair each in the next two periods.

In the corral — It what was likely the busiest weekend at home for Ponoka Minor Hockey this season with nearly every team hitting the ice at the Ponoka Recreation and Culture Complex. The midget squad managed a 5-1 Saturday night over Viking followed by a 4-4 draw with Daysland on Sunday. Meanwhile, the McDonalds atom team fell Friday night 7-3 to Vegreville and the Vantage Physio atom squad were edged 8-7 Saturday by Stony Plain the doubled up Vegreville on Sunday by a count of 4-3. The rest of the weekend saw the Lacoka Warriors female peewee squad blanked 3-0 by Camrose while the midgets lost 5-0 Saturday to Rockyview.

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Tyler Shoemaker from the Stampeders works hard to find the puck following a faceoff in the Calmar end late in the first period Jan. 5. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

Wyatt Avery looks to control the puck and searching for a teammate while being harassed by a Calmar defender during action late in the first period Jan. 5. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

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