Stamps salvage point in last-minute comeback

By Dale Cory

If only the Ponoka Stampeders could play every one of their Heritage Junior Hockey League games against division leaders.

In recent weeks, the Stamps have beaten the Airdrie Thunder (12-4) and pulled out a tie on the road against the Coaldale Copperheads (9-4-2-1).

The latest impressive result came Nov. 27 at the Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex. The Stamps earned a 5-5 draw against the Central Division leading Cochrane Generals, who hold the best record in the HJHL at 14-1-1.

The Stamps, now 4-9-3, have 11 points, just one point less than they achieved during the entire 2009-2010 season.

While head coach Randy Rook will take the point against the league’s best team, he would have much sooner watched his team beat the Generals.

And that looked to be the likely scenario after two periods — given the fact Ponoka held a 4-0 advantage thanks to first period goals by Jared Kambeitz (sixth) and Bob Goodship (second) and second-period tallies by Kambeitz and Cody Hagg (third).

However, what had been a controlling effort by the Stamps came crashing down around the home team in the third period, as Cochrane rallied to score five straight goals for a 5-4 advantage.

Just when it looked like the Stamps had blown the game, Kambeitz completed the hat trick with just 25 seconds left on the clock.

Each team had four shots on goal in the overtime, but neither turned on the red light, resulting in a 5-5 draw.

Ponoka finished the month of November with one win, two ties and four losses, and currently sits in fourth place in the North Division, four points behind Stettler.

Next up… Ponoka travels to High River to face the 7-5-1-2 Flyers Dec. 3, then makes the trip to Rimbey for the first meeting of the season with the Rock, which has yet to taste victory in 14 tries. Rimbey is averaging just 1.64 goals a game, while giving up a whopping 9.93 per game.

Face-off is at 8:30 p.m. Saturday in Rimbey.