Stettler Lightning ended last week with two consecutive losses, one at home, one on the road, weakening their record at the Heritage Junior B Hockey League.
The Lightning first lost 4-0 to Blackfalds Ford Wranglers on Tuesday, Dec.7 and then failed to hold on to their lead in their home game against High River Flyers on Saturday, Dec. 11, ending up 7-5 behind.
In Saturday’s game, an early goal in the fourth minute of the first period from the visiting Flyers heralded another difficult challenge for the local boys.
Flyers scored two more in the first period and the Lightning could respond with only one through Jake Schwarzenberger, going into the second period with a 3-1 deficit.
In the first minute of the second, however, out of the blue, Landon Potter suddenly appeared in front of the Flyers’ net and scored with a clever shot, and in doing so, fired up the whole team.
The Lightning offense kept going to the Flyers’ net in successive waves and shut the visitors out completely.
With two more goals from Mitch Finkbiner and one from Orie Spearing, the Lightning finished the second period with a 5-3 lead.
Yet, in the third period, the local boys lost their magic just as quickly as they found it and the Flyers scored four goals to win the game 7-5.
Lightning head coach Doug Smith agreed that the defense lost its orientation in the third period.
“That is pretty uncommon for us, because when we have a lead, we seem to be able to sit on it and hold on to it. I guess it was panic,” he said.
“One thing the High River Flyers can do is to score goals and we just let them back in and they started to come in with speed and scored.”
“Our margin for error is pretty small,” said Smith.
“Because we are not a really gifted offensive team.”
Commenting on the fluctuating performance of the Lightning over the past few weeks, coach Smith said they were still waiting for a player to come out and lead all the others into winning games.
“That’s a tough thing to say after 20 games, but that is the reality.”
“Some of the defense men have tried but then they took themselves out of their position and it made things even worse.”
Regarding the approaching playoff season and his teams strategy, coach Smith said “We have got to define our minds. We can’t kid ourselves anymore that we are going to go out and score five goals every night.”
“It is just not going to happen.”
“If we can score only two or three, we have to make sure that the other team gets only one or two.”
With eight wins, 12 losses and 17 points, the Lightning currently sit at third place in the five-team northern division.
The Lightning travel to Cochrane on Friday Dec. 19 and host Rimbey the next day.