A season of change is ahead for Ponoka Minor Hockey as their regular season is now underway.
The new interlock play schedule kicked-off over the weekend with the first set of games played under the new tiering and league play system. Ponoka teams now face off against teams in the North Central Minor Hockey League in all divisions and select teams from nearby leagues, except teams playing in the top tier. Those clubs will play a full interlocking schedule versus clubs from all three leagues involved.
And the season began in tough fashion for the Calnash Trucking Atoms, losing both games on home ice over the weekend. They lost 11-3 to Daysland on Oct. 29 with the Ponoka goals coming from Matias Czapp, Alex Wildeboer and Lennon Buffalo followed the next day by losing 14-2 to Hughenden in tier four action with both goals off the stick of Czapp.
There were two other clubs at home this weekend. The first was the Quality Paint PeeWees defeating Maskwacis 18-4 on Oct. 28. Nathan Parker led the charge with five goals, followed by two each from Brock Auclair, Trace Tonneson, Kevin Kammer, Jaiden Bandet and Nevin Thompson while Dylan Jones and Tyler Shoemaker each had one.
The second was the Credit Union Bantams on Oct. 29 and they came out on the plus side of a 6-4 score in tier four action over Maskwacis.
The locals got down 1-0 early before Gavin Allen-Prefontaine answered with just over minutes gone in the first period to tie it. Ponoka took the lead about 3:30 into the middle frame on a marker from Ethan Little only to see Maskwacis tie it up minutes later.
Goals less than two minutes apart from Allen-Prefontaine and Ashton Bandet, not long after the midway point of the game, gave Ponoka the lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Maskwacis closed the gap by one with two minute left in the second, but Bandet notched his second of the game with 13 seconds remaining to restore the two-goal advantage.
The third featured plenty of defensive magic, including Ponoka goaltender Jace Jacklin adding to his save total that ended with him turning aside 21 shots.
However, Maskwacis showed signs of a comeback by scoring with a little more than six minutes left in the contest, but Bandet squashed any hopes with his hat trick goal in the final minute.
The other local team playing in North Central Minor Hockey League action was the McDonalds Atoms falling 13-2 to Battle River in Killam.
Meanwhile, in tier 1 play it was the Fountain Tire Midget Wolves losing 11-3 in Drayton Valley, the Bantam Moose defeated Maskwacis 12-2 and the PeeWee Elks fell to Camrose 8-1.
A few Ponoka clubs are set to take to the road this coming weekend as the Atom clubs are playing host to a tournament. In tier one play, the PeeWee Elks are in Leduc with the Bantam Moose in Stony Plain and the Midgets at Maskwacis.