For the Ponoka Stampeders, the light at the end of the playoff tunnel is getting brighter.
Unfortunately, for the local junior B squad, they are more likely to get run over when they reach the end rather than carry on through.
Last season, the club squeaked into the playoffs for the first time in a decade and while they might make it for the second straight year, the results lately show it will once again be a really quick exit.
The team busted out of a four-game losing streak last week, only to roll over on the weekend in an 11-3 loss in Airdrie Dec. 16.
Defence was something neither team was really worried about, as demonstrated with the host Thunder opening the scoring just 80 seconds into the contest followed 40 seconds after that by Ponoka’s Kieran Bulloch tying it up with a powerplay marker.
Airdrie would take the lead on a powerplay of their own near the seven minute mark, only to have the Stamps Walker Guthrie tie it up close to the midway mark of the frame.
However, the home side would take a one-goal advantage into the second period, which evaporated just 1:10 into middle stanza with a powerplay goal by the Stampeders Roenick Minde.
But that would be it for Ponoka’s offence, as Airdrie would deposit three special teams goals — two powerplay and one shorthanded — in the period along with three others for a 9-3 lead after 40 minutes and then get two more goals in third.
Ironically, the Stampeders would outshoot Airdrie in that final period by a count 18-13, though the final shot tally favoured the home team 60-55. Powerplays also went in Airdrie’s favour on the night, as the Thunder went four for 12 with the man advantage while Ponoka had just six powerplay opportunities and scored twice.
The loss leaves the Stampeders a mere four points up on the north division basement dwelling Three Hills Thrashers and a staggering 13 points behind Stettler, who sit fifth in the division with 28 points.
Hoof prints – The Stampeders played yesterday (Dec. 20) in Blackfalds in their final game before Christmas (result unavailable at press time). They will play once more in 2016, in Stettler on Dec. 30. The club will continue their travelling road show in the new year with a game in Red Deer on Jan. 7 before finally getting back on home ice Jan. 11 when they host Stettler.