By Dale Cory
After opening the Heritage Junior Hockey League season with an impressive 4-3 victory over the Stettler Lightning Oct. 2, the Ponoka Stampeders came crashing back down to earth when they were blasted 10-0 by Blackfalds Oct. 6 at Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex. After losing their second-straight 6-2 in Strathmore Oct. 9, the Stamps brought their game back to Ponoka, where they scored a convincing 9-1 victory over Banff Oct. 10.
“It feels good. It feels really good. To come away with a win like that makes me feel really good,” said Stampeders assistant coach David Parent, now 1-0 as a head coach in the Heritage Junior Hockey League.
Parent was called upon to direct the team from the bench against Banff after head coach Randy Rook was handed a one game suspension for receiving a game misconduct the night before in Strathmore.
The Stamps, who won only six games during the entire 2009-2010 season, now sit with a 2-2 record two weeks into the current season.
Against Blackfalds, the visiting Wranglers broke open a tight 1-0 game with seven second-period goals to put Ponoka into the loss column for the first time this season.
The defending league champs took advantage of too many Ponoka penalties, scoring five times with the man advantage, and out shooting the Stamps 69-15.
Bryce Veuger led Blackfalds with two goals and three assists.
The Wranglers chased starting goaltender Garret Montour after he gave up eight goals through 40 minutes. Cale McBeath came in to play the third period.
McBeath got the starting nod from head coach Randy Rook Oct. 9 in Strathmore, and gave up three goals in the first 10 minutes and 43 seconds in a 6-2 loss to the Wheatland Kings.
Once again, Stamps’ penalty killers struggled to keep the puck out of the net, giving up four power play goals to Strathmore.
Mark Goodman and Lucas Ford each scored twice to pace Strathmore.
Gage Rosie had a pair of goals to lead Ponoka, while Jared Kambeitz, Kenton Siegle, Tyler Poskus and Scott Bowkett all drew assists.
The Stamps out shot Strathmore 52-51.
Back in the win column
Ponoka finally got back on track in front of home fans Sunday, Oct. 11 with an easy win over Banff at Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex.
“I liked that we come out after the loss in Strathmore and came out flying. It was good to see,” said Parent, who was impressed with the effort from Gage Rosie.
“I sat down with Gage after we got back from Strathmore and had a couple of words with him before the game, and it looked like I did something right. He was burying them all night long. He played really well,” said Parent. “He was moving his legs, he was talking out there, he was making great passes and going to the front of the net, something that he hasn’t been doing for awhile.”
Ponoka was up 5-0 after one period and 8-0 after 40 minutes.
Rosie paced Ponoka with a three-goal effort.
“It’s huge. We needed this win and the guys came through tonight, said Rosie, who tallied five times in a 19-hour span. “I haven’t felt that good this year until this weekend. I was skating well and getting the puck, and it was going in.”
For the Stampeders, it was a total reverse from their shutout loss to Blackfalds. Ponoka dominated the visiting Bears in every way.
“We were jut hemming them in their end. We were sitting there for five or 10 minutes at a time, and they would just have to dump it,” said Rosie of the Stamps’ offence, which fired 43 shots at Banff. “When that many shots and chance come — you’re going to score.”
The Stamps, now 2-2, are just four wins away from equalling their win total of a year ago. In fact, it took the team 11 games to get its second win last season.
“We have a lot of talent,” insists Rosie. “Penalties are going to kill any team. It doesn’t matter who you are. We‘ve been talking a lot about that and getting some things figured out. Hopefully, we can stay out of penalty trouble, like we did tonight, and get some more wins.”
Garrett Montour had a shutout going until the final second of the game, when Banff pulled the goalie on a power play, and chipped the puck past the Stamps’ netminder to break his shutout bid.
Next up… Ponoka gets a week off before entertaining the Medicine Hat Cubs Sunday, Oct. 17 at 2:30 p.m. at Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex.