The monkey is now off the backs of the Ponoka Stampeders and they did it in workman-like fashion.
Heading into their return to the Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex Nov. 23, the Stamps had lost 12 straight games and were set to face the league’s top team, the as-yet-undefeated 20-0 Okotoks Bisons.
However, the Stampeders stuck to their defensive plan and made good on their few scoring chances to pull out a 3-2 victory, courtesy of a goal from Odin Obray with just 1:20 remaining in the game.
Stampeders head coach Mike Nesbitt, and his team, were all grateful to shake off that losing streak that had reached 12 games.
“We were all so sick of losing, so it was a good win against a good team,” Nesbitt said.
“The kids did all the right things and it finally came through for us — got the puck deep, kept most of their shots to the outside and a good team game. As well, the emotions in the room were very evident after all of the frustration we’ve experienced lately and you also saw it from Okotoks afterwards, slamming sticks and such.”
Nesbitt added the club came close in the last few games, though he also knew the November schedule was going to be a rough one for the team.
“When I first saw (the schedule), I knew we were going to be in a bit of trouble, especially as we are by far the youngest team in the league,” he stated.
Ponoka opened the scoring with Kirby Buffalo pouncing on the loose puck after Kodan Smallboys’s wrap-around attempt was stopped with just under five minutes gone in the first frame.
Okotoks had sustained pressure on the Stamps most of the night, but Geoffrey Drought held the fort in the first until the Bisons solved the puzzle about eight minutes into the middle stanza.
Cree Auger got that back for the Stamps with about 3:30 remaining, only to see Okotoks tie it with 15 seconds left in the period.
One unique aspect of the contest was there were no penalties called in the first 40 minutes and just three minor penalties in the third, though Okotoks (two powerplays) and Ponoka (one) couldn’t capitalize with the extra attacker.
Drought turned aside 53 of 55 shots in the contest as Ponoka was outshot 55-37, including 21-12 in the third period.
The Stampeders hope to keep the momentum going as they host Blackfalds tonight (Wednesday) with the puck drop set for 7:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, Nesbitt continues to revamp his lineup with recent additions 20-yr-old Tyrone Potts Jr. from Maskwacis, 18-yr-old Joshua Robinson from Ajax, Ont., 20-yr-old Calem McNabb of Calgary and 21-yr-old Dakota Sullivan of Rocky Mountain House.