Three Hills Thrasher goalie Greg Pols looks back over his shoulder to see the puck

Three Hills Thrasher goalie Greg Pols looks back over his shoulder to see the puck

Inauspicious start to ‘November Push’ for Lightning

When head coach and general manager Doug Smith said it was time for the Stettler Lightning to start its November Push, he didn’t likely

When head coach and general manager Doug Smith said it was time for the Stettler Lightning to start its November Push, he didn’t likely expect it to start with a loss to Three Hills on Nov. 2.

The pitched battle saw Stettler drop 6-5 to the visiting team, but not before duking it out goal-by-goal.

“We fell down early,” Smith said, “but came back hard. A few mental mistakes cost us in the second and third (period), but it’s going to be a dogfight every time we play.”

The small mistakes continue to haunt the Lightning, who have eight or nine new players on the team this year, Smith said. While the number is a “little high compared to the previous years,” very few of the new players are rookies.

That’s why it’s the small

mistakes costing the team wins

rather than large, overall playing

problems.

“We play hard and overall not bad, but the small mistakes hurt,” Smith said, adding that practices now are about players learning to play together and anticipate each other so those missed opportunities become a thing of the past.

On Saturday, the Three Hills Thrashers faced the Lightning on their home rink, starting the game with two quick goals, one during a power play opportunity caused when Mark Dietz was handed a two minute timeout for interference.

Even if the other team doesn’t score during those penalty minutes, having to burn through short-handed minutes on ice saps the team, Smith said.

“It takes a lot of energy to play defence, energy we’d rather be spending on offence,” he said. “It takes a few minutes (after the penalty is over) to get the momentum back.”

Before the buzzer signaled the end of the first period, Stettler had tied up the score, first with a goal by Reese Anheliger and a second from Dylan Houston, just 14 seconds of game-time apart.

The Thrashers came out of the box in the second swinging, scoring a third goal for the visitors roughly three minutes into play, but the Lightning struck again a few minutes later with a goal from Adam Ternes.

It became a back-and-forth battle at this point, with the Thrashers scoring its fourth, answered by Scott Ternes two minutes later. The second ended in a tie score of 4-4.

The third period saw a change of pace as the Lightning were the first to strike, taking advantage of the Thrashers being short-handed due to a roughing penalty. However, the goal – sent home by Ternes for his second of the game – was the last for the local team.

The Thrashers scored while the Lightning were short-handed to tie the score, and despite their valiant efforts, the Three Hills offence got through goalie Jordan McCallum in the Stettler net to pull ahead.

The Lightning will be looking to break its losing streak this Friday, Nov. 7, here in Stettler against the Red Deer Vipers. With only three wins thus far this season, the Vipers trail the Lightning in the standings.

The game will see a full roster of players except for Levi Fisher, who is out with a partially separated shoulder, an injury taken in the Oct. 26 game.

According to Smith, Fisher will be out for several weeks while his shoulder heals. Team Captain Mark Dietz, who hails from Castor, will be on the roster despite a broken nose suffered in the Three Hills game, though he’ll have to wear a full cage until it is healed.

The Lightning currently sit in fifth place of seven teams in the northern division of the Heritage Junior Hockey League with 14 points – five wins, seven losses, and two overtime losses. They are trailed by Red Deer and Ponoka.