By Emily Jaycox
For the Stettler Independent
With the regular season now over, the Stettler Junior B Lightning hockey team prepares to battle the Blackfalds Wranglers in the first round of playoffs this week.
The Lightning will play a best-of-three contest against the Wranglers, starting with a home game on Feb. 12.
The puck drops at 8 p.m.
The Lightning have lost five of their six matchups against the Wranglers this season.
Stettler can’t seem to break away from Blackfalds, a team below them in the standings, but can play competitively with a team above them, such as Red Deer.
“The logic just doesn’t add up,” said Head Coach Rory Rost.
“We’re going to have to find a way to turn around the momentum.”
In previous matchups, the Wranglers have played a physical game, leading to injuries and fights and suspensions.
“They know how to push the buttons on our team … but I believe it’s a quick-fix,” said Rost.
“Our game plan is to skate, move the puck, and don’t retaliate.”
The Lightning finished their regular season with two back-to-back-home games.
They had a convincing victory over the Three hills Thrasher 12-3 on Friday, Feb. 8, but suffered a 2-4 loss to the Airdrie Techmation Thunder Saturday, Feb. 9.
Scording was 5-6-1 against the Thrashers.
The Thrashers were shutout until the third, when they were able to score three times, including two short-handed goals.
The game versus Airdrie was tied 2-2 by the end of the second frame, but despite even shots on both sides in the third, the Lightning didn’t score again.
The Lightning finish their regular season with a 14W-14L-7OTL record and 41 points, fixing them in fourth place in the Northern Division standings.
The Mountainview Colts are five points ahead in third place, and the Blackfalds Wranglers are in fifth place with 34 points.
The top six teams in the Northern Division and the top six teams in the Southern Division will go on to the first round of playoffs.
As the seventh and last-placed team in the Northern Division, the Thrashers don’t make the final cut.
If the Lightning are victorious against the Wranglers, they will face the league champs, the Airdrie Techmation Thunder, in the second round, unless Ponoka is able to the beat the Mountainview Colts.
“It’s going to be tough,” said Rost.
The Lightning have gotten points off every team this season, except for Airdrie.
Still, Rost is optimistic.
“Anything is possible.”