A third straight first-round playoff exit has ended a season filled with challenges and struggles for the Ponoka Stampeders.
The club was bounced in the Heritage Junior Hockey League’s north division quarter final series in two straight games by the Mountainview Colts — falling 5-1 in Didsbury on Feb. 13 and then losing 6-1 on home ice Feb. 16.
Coach Matt Williams reflected on both the series and the season following the loss.
“We knew this series was going to be tough, knew we had to show up and everyone needed to play well. Give them credit — they’ve got speed and size and are well-coached,” Williams said of the playoff round.
“They outplayed us, but our goalies gave us every chance to win. We are young, inexperienced and most players didn’t quite understand what playoff hockey is. At times we looked good, other times, well you saw what happened.”
As for the season overall, a rash of injuries made an already tough year even more difficult.
“Losing Clay Guthrie for several weeks then seeing Walker Guthrie plus Pierce Sorenson with season ending injuries and a number of other injuries during the year, all of the losses ate us up. You try to replace them, but you just can’t,” he noted.
Williams added there will be some evaluation time taken by the coaching staff to find out what is needed, though Williams admitted it may be a nearly complete roster overhaul.