While some rang in 2017 with sparkling wine and parties, the Stettler Lightning chose to kick off the new year with a decisive victory over perennial foes the Blackfalds Wranglers, 5-3.
“The game went really well,” Head Coach Gavin Brandl said. “We really had all the phases of play going, from goalie to defence to making the best of every scoring opportunity.”
The Tuesday, Jan. 3 game in Blackfalds seemed to be in the home team’s favour after the first period ended 2-0 for the Wranglers, but Stettler gathered themselves to fight back over the intermission and took to the ice in the second with determination.
“It was a matter of us keeping the pressure on,” Brandl said. “We kept putting the puck on net.”
That determination paid off as Captain Dylan Houston scored the first Stettler goal about halfway through the period, coming off a pair of timely shots from Kieran Rost and Matt Sylvester.
Though the Bolts only netted one goal in the second, their defencemen kept Blackfalds from wrangling another point to end the period 2-1.
It was in the third period that the Bolts were electrified, scoring four goals in short successions. The first, about two-and-a-half minutes into the final period, was by Rylee Jacobson, with Logan Davidson netting a second about three minutes later.
It took another five minutes for Sylvester to net his first goal of 2017, and another five for Brendan Bardwell to do the same.
“In my experience every goalie has a breaking point, where everything starts to unravel,” Brandl said. “We just kept firing the pucks at him until that point and then we started scoring.”
During this four-goal Bolts bonanza the Wranglers struggled to keep the heat on the visiting team, but came up short after nudging the puck past Jordan McCallum but once.
McCallum was Stettler’s star, stopping 25 of the 28 shots on net, but the offensive wing of the team shone as well: they peppered the Wranglers’ netminder with 45 shots over the three periods of play.
Stettler next plays tonight, Wednesday, Jan. 11 in Ponoka. The puck drops at 7:45 p.m.
Stettler next has the home advantage on Friday, Jan. 20 as they welcome the Okotoks Bisons. The game starts at 7:30 p.m.