The Ponoka Stampeders have made it to playoffs for the first time in at least a decade and they play at home today, Wednesday, Feb. 10 in the second game of a best-of-three series.
Ponoka boys almost didn’t make it, but the Saturday, Feb. 6 game against the Red Deer Vipers solidified their playoff spot with a 3-1 win. With no goals in the first period it was anyone’s game, but a shorthanded, unassisted goal by Nate Higgins in the second put Ponoka in the running for the win.
Just under two minutes later, Tyson Crampaign scored and now the win was in their sights. In the third, it was clear Ponoka was going to win after Higgins, assisted by Braeden Grant, dropped the puck in an empty net.
The Vipers managed to score one goal during a power play but the damage was done. and the Stampeders made it to a best of three playoff series against the same team they just beat to claim their playoff spot: the Red Deer Vipers .
Coach Tyler Fiveland said he knew the team could win against the Vipers, it just took some quality defensive plays to make it happen. “It was pretty big for the guys there.”
“Now we know we can beat them,” stated Fiveland.
He said there are several players who came out of the Red Deer Minor Hockey program and winning against the Vipers was significant. On a fun note, he said Tye Munro used to play with the Stampeders but is now with the Vipers and their win added to the celebration. Fiveland praised the Ponoka fans and parents as well for showing their support and coming out in a big way at the Vipers game.
Fiveland is excited for the short best of three series because, as he puts it, “Anything can happen.”
With this result, Fiveland has now delivered on the promise he made when he first took over as the head coach of the Stampeders last summer when he said his first goal was to make the Stampeders a playoff team as a start to build the program up for more successes in the future.
The first game of the series was played in Red Deer Tuesday, Feb. 9 just as Ponoka News went to print. Tonight’s game starts at 7:45 p.m. at Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex. If necessary, the third game will be played Saturday, Feb. 13 in Red Deer.