Ponoka Stampeders have finally ended the multi-year home win drought with a narrow 3-2 victory over High River Flyers on Saturday, Nov.8, raising hopes that there will be more to come before the end of the season.
Defeating the Flyers required a lot of determination and effort as the visitors didn’t let up the pressure right up to the last seconds of the game.
The game remained scoreless at the end of the first period but that did not bother head coach Mark Dobler. He said players stuck to the program throughout the game and kept strong discipline. There were few unnecessary penalties and players stayed in their zones, he explained. “You’re seeing the team mature that much more now.”
Tyson Crampain opened scoring for the Stampeders in third minute of the second period and Flyers responded five minutes later, but it took Ponoka boys just under four minutes to take the lead again with Chandler Knibb to demonstrate that they were not to trail in this game. The second period ended with the 2-1 lead.
Halfway through the third, Kwyn Hiebert opened the lead to two points for the Stampeders, but 17 seconds later Flyers responded in style, keeping the Ponoka boys on the edge. Yet, they failed to score an equalizer before the final buzzer, which declared a long-awaited home triumph for the hosts.
Dobler attributed the win to the new approach they were adopting in executing their game plans. If a player makes a mistake, rather than over compensate and leave his position, he stays in his zone knowing a teammate will be there to pick up the slack, Dobler explained.
“We’re not getting caught out of position by trying to do too much to fix that mistake,” he said.
He feels the team had other chances to score but is still pleased with players’ efforts. There were some power plays he wanted to see capitalized on, however, Dobler feels the team’s discipline overall is paying off.
“Our breakout in our own zone was great because our defense was back quick. Our forwards were there helping out,” said Dobler.
Shots on goal reflect the score with 37 for Ponoka and 34 for High River. The Flyers’ goalie was removed in the last seconds of the game, bringing six against five but the Stampeders were able to hold them back until the buzzer ended the game.
After the game against High River, the Stampeders had a record of 2-2-7, probably the most points they have had in the last three years, said Dobler. He feels they have potential to win more games in the 37-game season.
“We just have to stay on the path we’re on,” he concluded.
The next day’s home game, though, was not as fortunate for the Ponoka boys as Saturday’s was.
Stampeders lost 7-2 to Coaldale on Sunday, Nov.9 with the only scores for the home team coming from Travis Woodford in the first and Chandler Knibb in the second but they were not enough to stop the relentlessly fast skating visitors.
Stampeders’ next home game is on Wednesday, Nov. 12 hosting Red Deer Vipers.