The rough road for the Ponoka Stampeders took a break for the holidays, but the season continues to be filled with positives.
In the final week of action before Christmas, the Stamps were able to add another in the win column against a huge rival before falling twice to close out 2018.
That victory was a 3-0 shutout in Blackfalds on Dec. 18, a game Ponoka head coach Matt Williams described as a moment where the club saw just what it can accomplish together.
“It was the closest thing to a playoff game one could get in the regular season,” stated Williams.
“It was even in the first then up and down from there. We capitalized on the few chances we had the next two periods, while our goaltending bailed us out on numerous occasions.”
Brandon Clark was between the pipes and claimed the 30 shot shutout, with the goals coming from Braden Klessens, Kieran Bulloch and Austin Hunt.
“It was the most complete game I’ve seen our club play this season. They did all the right things and that was good to see,” Williams added.
That great performance came on the heels of a big loss to the league’s most dominant club, Dec. 14 in Airdrie where the Stamps were blasted 11-1.
“Airdrie is in a category to themselves. You can think you’re in a game with five minutes remaining, then they come at you and seem to score at will,” Williams said.
“They are in a completely different conversation when it comes to this league. And, we aren’t the only ones seeing our butts kicked by them.”
That fact is borne out by Airdrie’s 27-2 record as well as the club’s 243 goals scored, which has them top of the league with 54 points.
Meanwhile, the Stamps’ last game Dec. 22 in Stettler was a disappointing 5-1 loss, something Williams attributes to brief lapse in the second period.
“We fell off the rails for about five minutes. We have proven we can play a solid game and compete with this line up, when we show up,” he said.
“This club is getting better each time and we have two amazing goaltenders. I know there are teams that are already thinking they don’t want to face us come playoffs.”
From the corral — After an 11 day break, the Stamps return to action tonight (Jan. 2, 7:45 p.m. puck drop) as they host the Mountainview Colts to kick off 2019 in hopes of improving on their record of 7-15-2 that has them three points back of fifth spot in the north division. The team then embarks on another lengthy trek away from home, playing five games in eight days, before returning home on Jan. 13 to face Airdrie.