Lightning top Colts in season-opener

The Stettler Lightning did it the hard way, but they opened the regular season on a winning note Saturday night in Didsbury.

The Stettler Lightning did it the hard way, but they opened the regular season on a winning note Saturday night in Didsbury.

Picking up where they left off in the pre-season, the unbeaten Lightning edged the Mountainview Colts 6-5 in Stettler’s season-opener in the Heritage Junior Hockey League.

The Lightning trailed 3-0 after the first period, but they made it 4-4 in the second after capitalizing twice during a five-minute power play.

The 16-year-old Ternes twins — Adam and Scott — scored third period goals, respectively, to cap their junior B debut.

Landon Potter, Wyatt Haustein, Dylan Muhlbach and Kyler O’Connor also scored for the Lightning, which went 3-0-1 in the pre-season. O’Connor, with a three-point night, and Cam Wright each picked up two assists, while Muhlbach figured in both power play goals.

Coleman Waddell made 43 saves to win his first regular-season game with Stettler.

Cody Issler scored two goals 2:46 apart to put Mountainview ahead 3-0 just 14 minutes into the game.

It was the second game in as many nights for the Colts, who won their home-opener Friday when they beat the Banff Bears 7-4.

“We gave them the three-goal spot once again, which wasn’t so good,” said Stettler coach and general manager Doug Smith, whose Lightning defeated and tied the Colts in their back-to-back exhibition meetings.

“A couple of puck-handling errors in the first period led to goals, and in the second period we came out more in tune with what we’d been doing in the preseason. We started skating better.”

The Lightning scored twice while the Colts were penalized for instigating the second fight of the second period, and controlled most of the final period, Smith said.

“We seemed a little nervous (early in the game). I guess when you start the season for real, everybody kind of feels the pressure a little bit.

“But being down a couple or two isn’t going to deter us this year. All the guys seemed confident in their ability to claw their way back.”

In their home-opener, the Lightning host the Three Hills Thrashers at 8 p.m. Friday at the Stettler Recreation Centre.

“We’ll look at a couple of new bodies this week at practice,” Smith said before Monday’s workout. “Whether there’ll be any cuts from other teams that can help us any better than what we’ve got, it’s hard to say.

“When you’re undefeated so far, it’s pretty hard to make changes.”

Before they began the regular season last week, the Lightning cut two local goaltenders — Josh McCallum and Jeff Skaley — to bring the team’s goalie count to three.

Incumbent goaltender Simon Thieleman, whose work commitments out of province limited his preseason availability, has resumed practising with the Lightning.

For now, the club plans to keep newcomers Waddell and Mack Schell, but the three-goalie equation is likely a temporary arrangement, “just until Simon gets a feel for it again,” Smith said.

“Mack can be an option for the senior team down in Big Valley, too. It gives them another local goalie … but at least when he’s on a junior card, he can play in both places.

“It’s good pressure for both (regular) goalies to have the third guy there. It keeps their game up.”

Waddell, who’s from Duchess, turns 19 on Nov. 1. He won the backup job over three local midget graduates in Schell, McCallum and Skaley.

“To their credit, I thought everybody played really well in the pre-season,” Smith said of his goaltending prospects. “They all probably had a goal that they would like to have back, but that’s the nature of the business.”

Waddell played junior A in Neepawa, Man., last season before finishing with the Saddle Lake Warriors of North Eastern Alberta junior B league.

Thieleman, a Lightning veteran from Castor, didn’t play in the pre-season because he was working in southern Saskatchewan, Smith said.

He might start this Friday, “depending on how practice goes this week.”

Friday’s game has other Castor implications. Lightning rookies Steven Fletcher and Clinton Allen go up against fellow Castor native and former teammate Michael Neumeier, a rookie with Three Hills. All three of them graduated from Gus Wetter School last June, and their convocation ceremonies are this Saturday night.

Three Hills has three Neumeier brothers in the mix, including Michael’s teammate Aaron and assistant coach Sean.

The Thrashers’ lineup includes midget-aged rookie Jacob Hamel of Stettler.

Michael Neumeier scored a power-play goal last Friday as Three Hills opened the season with a 4-1 win over the host Airdrie Extreme.

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