It was not a win but it certainly felt like one: For the first time this season, Stampeders scored eight goals in a game and they demonstrated a convincing effort, giving hope to fans and supporters that they are on their way to becoming a much better team.
In their match with Red Deer Vipers on Wednesday, Oct. 23, Stampeders scored two quick goals in the first half of the first period, the first by captain Brad Zimmerman on an assist from Cole Visser and the second by Jacob Bottomley with an assist from Cole Pritchard and Damian Pannenbecker and went to their locker room, leading the Vipers 2-0.
Then it was the Vipers’ turn to give a shock to Ponoka defense as they scored three points within less than three minutes, capturing the lead. The rest of the second period was truly a duel of scoring with both teams capitalizing on the weaknesses of the opponent.
It was the Vipers, however, who made most of the duel: from the beginning of the second period when they led 2-0, the local boys fell 7-5 behind as the buzzer stopped the clock.
Goals for Ponoka in the second period were scored by Jacob Bottomley on an assist from Darrian Banack and Cole Pritchard, Chandler Knibb receiving an assist from Trystin Rebman and by Damian Pannenbecker on an assist from Tye Munro.
When the third period began, the Vipers struck twice more within the first three minutes of the play increasing their lead to 9-5. But it turned out that Stampeders were not in a mood to give the game away. In a spectacular comeback effort, Stampeders scored three more goals, the last of them only five seconds from regulation.
Chandler Knibb scored in the 11th minute on assist from Tye Munro and Jacob Bottomley and later Tyson Crampain and Cole Visser struck, both unassisted.
The passion, the work ethic and the drive on the part of Ponoka boys during the last ten minutes of game were certainly not too little, but it was too late.
The game against Cochrane Generals on Saturday, Oct. 26 on home ice was again a significant demonstration of Stampeders’ willingness to win. Yet, the defensive errors continued to haunt the team in particular in the second period, when the visitors established their supremacy once and for all.
Although the local boys showed great skill and dedication in the first two periods, the roughness of the game, initiated by the visiting Generals, appeared to take a toll on the Stampeders’ drive in terms of maintaining their motivation.
When the final buzzer went off, there was only one point on the scoreboard for the Stampeders and it was by Jacob Bottomley on an assist from Tye Munro and Jarritt Alexander.
No one from the Stampeders’ coaching staff was available for comment on the games.
Having played most of their home games, Stampeders now start an extended series of away games with home games coming after long pauses.
They play two consecutive away games next week, on Nov. 2 at Three Hills and Nov. 5 in Blackfalds before hosting High River on Nov. 9.