Stettler Lightning suffered heavy setbacks in road games over the weekend as they took on Airdrie Thunder on Friday, Dec. 11 and Red Deer Vipers on Saturday, Dec. 12, losing to both teams by a huge margin of 12-2 in the first game and 6-5 in the second.
Friday night in Airdrie was a complete washout for Lightning as the opponents inundated their defence with four goals in the first period, two in the second and six in the third.
Although Lightning fought back, scoring in the second period with goals from Andrew Shirley, assisted by Chandler Knibb and Cody Wright, and Matt Johannson, assisted by Cody Wright and Derek Muhlbach, which took the scoreboard to 6-2, it was not enough.
“It was a tough weekend for us with a pair of road losses against two strong opponents in Airdrie and Red Deer,” said Gavin Brandl. “Friday night in Airdrie was a complete debacle with the final score being 12-2.”
With only 14 players dressed for the game because of injury and sickness, Brandl felt that Lightning was “behind the eight ball before the game even started.”
“But we don’t make excuses in our dressing room and to be frank we compounded our problems by not showing up with the mindset that we still had a chance to win,” added Brandl.
On Saturday, as the Lightning took on the Red Deer Vipers, Dylan Houston scored the first goal in the first period, assisted by Steven Fletcher and Chandler Knibb, taking the scoreboard to 2-1.
The Vipers came back in the second period, relentlessly attacking the Lightning defence and taking the score to 5-1.
But, Lightning came back strong in then third period, scoring another four goals, with Houston scoring three.
The first being an unassisted shot from Derek Muhlbach, the second by Dylan Houston, assisted by Kieran Rost and Derek Muhlbach, the third by Dylan Houston with a pass from Rylee Jacobson, and the fourth goal was once again scored by Houston with a pass from Muhlbach.
“We took a step back and hit the reset button before we went into Red Deer on Saturday night,” said Brandl. “We got a few of our sick players back into the lineup and called up Ethan Rost from the local midget program so our lineup was a lot closer to being as talented as it can possibly be.”
According to Brandl. although the score ended up being 6-5 for the Vipers, “structurally speaking we were much better than Friday night and we played with heart, which was important to me after getting embarrassed the night before.”
Looking ahead, Brandl said, “We find ourselves in the midst of a very tight playoff race, which means that every game from here on out is absolutely crucial.”
“As hockey players, you can’t ask for anything more than to have every game be meaningful so we are going to make sure we take advantage of the situation and rise to the occasion.”
With three games left before Christmas break, Brandl’s goal for the team is to be in possession of a playoff spot by then.
“The community support has been strong all season thus far, so hopefully that is the case again for the home games this weekend and we will be sure to put forth an effort worth cheering for!” added Brandl.
Lightning plays Mountainview on Friday, Dec. 18 and Three Hills on Saturday, Dec. 19.
For both games the puck drops at 7.30 p.m.