The Stettler Legion Blues clinched first place in the North Central Minor Hockey Association midget A division Sunday with a 2-2 tie against the visiting Rimbey Renegades.
In the process, the Storm contained Rimbey sensation Kale Lapointe, who leads the league with 53 goals and 104 points in just 25 games.
“With the strong play of defencemen Parker Cassidy, Brogan Cassidy, Riley Anderson and Tyler Stewart, we held Lapointe to one assist,” said Blues assistant coach Neil McCallum.
“It was a showdown of the top offence versus the top defence in the league. It was a very competitive game, with some big hits and lots of action. It almost had a playoff feel to it.
“One of the key plays of the game was a gutsy call by head coach Matt Cassidy to pull our goalie, Jordan McCallum, for a sixth attacker with four seconds left in the first period and a faceoff in Rimbey’s end. We scored just before the buzzer to tie it at one.
“Both goalies were sharp and the game ended in a 2-2 tie.”
Logan Davidson’s goal with 4:48 left in the third period lifted Stettler into the draw. Stefan du Toit netted the dramatic goal with one second left in the first period. Micah Croker assisted on both Stettler goals.
Tye Munro and Douglas Wing replied for Rimbey, which fired 23 shots at McCallum. Stettler posted 40 shots on Nolan Carruthers.
The Blues have two games left in the regular season, but they’ve already secured first place with a 16-4-4 record that has them six points ahead of Rimbey (14-9-2) and seven in front of the Red Deer Kings (14-11-1).
Stettler scored a 5-1 victory over the host Innisfail Flyers (5-16-2) on Saturday night, after losing 4-2 to the Ponoka Wolves (9-15-2) on the road Thursday.
“We finally snapped out of our malaise and fired 70 shots at the Innisfail goal,” Neil McCallum said.
“We jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first, and if it wasn’t for the heroics of the Innisfail goalie Klay Munro, the score would have been much worse.”
The Blues’ Jacques du Toit scored a goal and assisted on two others. Davidson, Stefan du Toit, Chase McGonigal and Parker Cassidy also scored for Stettler. Anderson collected two assists.
The Flyers were outshot 70-24 in a marathon night for Munro. Devon Woelk tended goal for Stettler.
The Blues were coming off a rare loss on Valentine’s Day at Ponoka. Croker and Stefan du Toit scored power-play goals for Stettler, and Jordan McCallum blocked 29 shots.
Taylor Schnell made 24 saves for Ponoka, which got goals from Dustin Bell, Austin Way, Tyler Ekeli and Matthew Klimec.
“We didn’t play particularly well, which was a carryover from the weekend before,” said coach McCallum. “It didn’t help that we had a disallowed goal and two very questionable goals were allowed, plus an obvious interference (infraction) led to a third goal against us. Let’s just say the officiating there was a little suspect.”
After that setback, Stettler responded by earning three of a possible four points on the weekend.
“The last two games, I think, got us out of our little slump and now we have just two league games left this week,” McCallum said.
Stettler hosts Innisfail at 6:30 p.m. Thursday and visits Ponoka at 6:15 p.m. Friday.
The Blues also plan to face off against host Provost this weekend for Game 1 of their two-game, total-goal zone championship series. Game 2 would be in Stettler the following weekend.
Stettler and Provost are already guaranteed berths in the midget B provincials, scheduled for March 21-24 at Provost.