The Ponoka Stampeders may be heading in the right direction, managing to wrangle one wild animal on the weekend.
The local junior B squad put up its second win of the season, blasting the Banff Bears 9-4 Oct. 16 at the Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex after losing a close one at home the night before 6-4 to the Okotoks Bisons. The Stamps were also blanked earlier in the week, 5-0 by Blackfalds.
It didn’t take long for the Stamps to put their foot on the gas against the Bears, as Taite Opdendries scored a shorthanded effort just 57 seconds in. Kyle Skogen put Ponoka up by a pair less then five minutes later with Dakota Sullivan increasing the lead a little more than two minutes later.
Nate Higgins made it 4-0 with 36 seconds remaining in the opening period and the game had the makings of a rout.
However, Banff refused to lay down and hibernate, managing a pair of goals in the second with Ponoka’s Jacob Sayler potting one to make it 5-2.
The third was all Banff, as the Bears outshot the Stampeders 9-4 in the frame and 28-25 overall, but were unable to match the offensive power of the Stamps.
Higgins got Ponoka’s second shorthanded goal of the game two minutes into the third, followed two and half minutes later by a goal from Brendan Scott. Banff scored twice in an 11-second span at the midway point of the period, but the comeback attempt would be stymied by the goaltending of Zeke Leuck and Higgins would put home two more in the final two minutes to salt it away.
As for the Okotoks contest, it was a few poorly timed mistakes that put them behind the eight ball. The visitors took a 2-0 lead early in the second, but Ponoka stampeded back with three straight goals — first from Higgins six and a half minutes into the period, then Chevazz Rabbit on a powerplay two minutes later and Higgins’ second of the night on another powerplay four minutes after that.
However, that lead would not last as Okotoks tied it with 1:30 left then followed that two more in the third, before Higgins with two minutes remaining to get Ponoka within a goal. It was not to be though, as the Stamps couldn’t get the puck over the centre line and gave up an empty netter with three ticks on the clock.
Stamps coach Tyler Fiveland was pleased with the team’s play in both weekend games, though he would’ve preferred a better result against Okotoks.
“We played decent in both games,” he said.
“We had a real chance to beat Okotoks. But, we still had three mental mistakes in the game that cost us goals — bad passes, bad bounces, that kind of thing.”
Fiveland knew Banff has been struggling as well, but it was great to get a very much-needed win and the two points.
“That said, we still didn’t play a full 60 minutes. Banff averages two goals a game and they got four against us, so it’s a good thing our offence came through,” he added.
“We just have to get to playing simple hockey, put the puck to the net and crash and bang it in. We are starting to see that.”
The Stampeders (2-7) face a tough test this coming weekend with three games in three days — including a pair of home dates against Airdrie (7-2-2) on Oct. 22 (8 p.m. puck drop) and the next day versus Strathmore (3-4-2) at 2:30 p.m. Fiveland stated all three games will pose a good test for his team to see if they are ready to step up their game.