By CHARLES TWEED
It was the Ponoka atom B Stampeders’ version of the Stanley Cup and the question now is: when do they get fitted for their rings?
The Stampeders won a squeaker, a 3-2 victory over the Olds Bandits to claim the Zone 4 championship and celebrated like champions.
“They (the kids) threw up their gloves and sticks and were yelling and screaming, they were ecstatic,” said manager Jennifer McLaren.
The excitement level was comparable in the stands as well.
“We (the parents) were all on pins and needles and when the final horn blew we were all cheering and screaming, tears were there. We are all so proud of them,” explained McLaren.
Played in Olds, the game was a defensive battle until the third period as the teams managed to keep each other off the score sheet until the final frame.
In the third, it was the Bandits who struck first to take the lead 1-0.
Undeterred, the Stampeders struck right back just over a minute later to even things up off the stick of Clayton Raugust. That goal seem to fire the Stamps up as they scored the next two goals to take the lead 3-1 — the goals were scored by Sam Neath and Raugust, his second. Olds would mount a comeback scoring with four minutes left to narrow the lead to one.
The final two minutes were pandemonium as Olds desperately tried to get the tying goal but Zachary Prediger stood tall in net for Ponoka to secure the win.
“They came out strong and stayed strong the whole game. They played as a team and never got ahead of themselves,” said McLaren. “It was an intense game, especially with no scoring until the third period. We couldn’t have asked for a better year and they truly deserved it. Our coaches, Jason Neath, Trevor Feragen and Mike Weir were outstanding.”