By Dale Cory
The Ponoka Stampeders, who had looked so good in winning three of their first five games early in this Heritage Junior Hockey League season, came crashing back to earth last weekend.
The Stamps played twice, and lost both games to fall below the .500 mark.
Ponoka fell 6-3 in Stettler Friday, and 8-1 to Coaldale on home ice Sunday.
The Stamps now sit with three wins and four losses on the season, good for a third-place tie with Stettler in the HJHL’s North Division.
Friday in Stettler, the hometown Lightning, who dropped a 4-3 decision in Ponoka to open the regular season, got some revenge on the visiting Stamps by scoring three third-period goals in a 6-3 victory.
Stettler took an early lead with a first period power play goal, and expanded that advantage to three when they scored twice in a 31-second span early in the second period.
The Stamps responded with two of their own. Brandon Tebb’s second of the season got Ponoka on the scoreboard, and Kevin Penner’s first pulled the Stamps to within a goal.
Stettler regained its two-goal advantage early in the third, but Gage Rosie’s eighth of the campaign got Ponoka back within one.
However, Stettler’s Reese Anheliger beat Ponoka goalie Garret Montour 36 seconds later to give the Lightning a two-goal lead, and Cam Wright scored four minutes later to seal Ponoka’s fate.
Defeated at home
Back in front of home fans Sunday afternoon, the Stamps failed to muster any type of offensive threat, and were soundly defeated 8-1 by the Coaldale Copperheads at the Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex.
When the weekend was over, and the Stampeders had nothing to show for their effort but a pair of defeats, head coach and general manager Randy Rook voiced his concerns over the lack of leadership he witnessed from his crew.
“If I look back over the years at the teams I’ve coached that were successful — and those that weren’t — I think I can attribute it to what type of individuals I had on that particular team,” stated Rook. “I have two categories of players usually on each team. There are carriers and there are guys who have to be carried. I have always tried to surround myself with more carriers, but that is sometimes hard to do.
“I have often gone back and looked at team pictures and asked, ‘Why is this team better than that team?’ Usually I realize I had more carriers that year, more guys who could carry other people, who had more energy, who had more natural courage, and that’s why they competed the way they competed. That’s why they influenced the rest of the group. If you have too many guys who need to be carried, you are in for a long season.”
Rook is hopeful his ‘carriers’ will come through when Ponoka travels to Didsbury Oct. 30 to face Mountainview. The Colts are in third place in the Central Division with a 4-4 record.
Next home action for the Stamps is Nov. 3 vs. the Red Deer Vipers.
Around the HJHL… Blackfalds and Red Deer are tied for top spot in the North Division with 11 points each. The Wranglers are 5-0-1, while the Vipers are 5-1-1. Rimbey is at the bottom of the division. The Rock have yet to win in five tries, and are the lone remaining winless team in the league.
Coaldale leads the South Division with 12 points, and Airdrie leads the Central Division with 14 points, four better than Cochrane. The first-place Thunder have won all seven games this season, while the second-place Generals are a perfect 5-0 to start the season.