The Ponoka Stampeders junior B squad were able to overcome the fact they couldn’t open their season at home and won their opening contest 6-3 in Rimbey Sept. 22. Photo by Dylan Jeffcott

Stampeders kick off season at home on the road

Ponoka’s junior squad deals with some adversity to start things off

It’s been an interesting and crazy beginning to the new season for Ponoka’s junior B hockey club.

However, a nice 6-3 win Sept. 22 over the Lomond Lakers in Rimbey, in what was the team’s “home” opener, has certainly made the situation a bit easier to swallow.

Bailet Nesbitt scored twice for the Stamps, including once on the powerplay, while singles came from Brandt Seland, Cree Auger, Wade Lightburn and Devin Anderson in the victory.

With the hiring of new head coach and general manager Mike Nesbitt to challenges with changes to training camp and opening the season at “home” on the road due to ice issues in Ponoka, having that first notch in the win column has taken the edge off for the club.

“The team is looking really good and based on the exhibition games, I knew we would have no trouble scoring,” said Nesbitt.

“Our top two lines got three goals each and you can’t teach offence, that natural talent has to be there.”

That said, you can teach defence and that’s exactly what Nesbitt needs to see some improvement in.

“We had too many giveaways at our blueline and two of their goals came as a direct result of losing the puck there,” he added.

“It’s critical to be able to get the puck safely out of our zone, because if you don’t it usually explodes on you.”

Nesbitt stated the powerplay is doing well, including getting one goal on five opportunities against the Lakers, while the penalty killing unit is finding its way to some success giving up one on six chances.

As for the challenges of not being able to be on the ice in Ponoka for the last several weeks, Nesbitt feels it may have helped especially with the 18 new players on the roster.

“It’s something I think was needed and everyone seems to be on the same page right from the start,” he said.

Hoof prints — The Stamps remain on the “road” as they visit the expansion Rocky Rams on Sept. 28 (puck drop 8:30 p.m.) followed by a return match against the Lakers in Claresholm Oct. 5. The club’s first game in Ponoka comes Oct. 12 versus Mountainview (game time 8:45 p.m.) and is the first of a three-game homestand.

On a sad and disappointing note, the annual minor/rec hockey camp that was to be hosted this week was cancelled as of Sept. 13. Since the ice plant issues pushed the camp later along with no guarantee the ice would be ready for the revised dates combined with a number of participants dropping out, organizers were forced to forgo it this year. Anyone who has not received a refund is asked to visit Donna at LKQ or email ponokastampeders@gmail.com.

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