Although Stettler Lightning lost one of their home games last weekend, it was clear that something was new in the way the team moved on the ice, raising hopes that there are some great hockey games to be watched ahead.
The Lightning overpowered the Banff Academy bears 6-2 on Saturday night, Oct. 16, but gave in to much tougher opponents, the Airdrie Thunder 5-0 the next day.
When the Bears scored the first goal of the game five minutes into the first period on Saturday, there were worries that this could be just another game lost at home.
But the Lightning took their time to slowly but surely to assert their dominance on home ice.
Five minutes before the end of the first period, Mitch Finkbiner scored for the first time for the local side, assisted by Cam Wright, opening the way for the others to follow.
Only thirty seconds after the start of the second period, Tyson Glazier, assisted by Kyle O’Connor, added another point to the scoreboard in power-play to be followed in only 40 seconds by Brett Oulette to make it 3-1, this time the assist coming from Myles Rindal.
There were no other goals in the second period.
When the third period started, a relaxed and evidently more confident Lightning punished the Bears with three consecutive power-play goals coming from Finkbiner, Glazier and Doug Blacklock.
In the last two minutes, the coach of the visiting Bears pulled back the goalie with the hope of getting even on the scoreboard, but the attempt produced only one goal in the last 30 seconds.
In Saturday’s game the Lightning benefited a lot from setting up the the defense line far ahead of the goal close to the centre of the rink.
The next day, though, the Lightning defense was up to a far tougher challenge.
The Airdrie Thunder, having created in impenetrable wall of defense, moved the puck as and when they wanted in the Lightning’s half of the rink.
Almost two thirds of the total game time on Sunday was spent in front of the Lightning net.
The Thunder scored two gaols in the first period, and three in the second, two of them in power-play and one when they were short-handed.
Penalties returned to haunt the Lightning during Sunday’s game, significantly weakening the local boys’ defensive capacity.
Lightning head coach Doug Smith said opportunities were missed on Sunday to achieve a more balanced score.
“While we put the puck to right place, we couldn’t pull the trigger quick enough,” said Smith of Sunday’s game.
“We made a few horrendous mistakes but we did skate with them.”
“Our work ethic in both games deserved appreciation,” he said.
“The effort was there but we have to be quicker against the better teams in the league.”
The Lightning now stand at the fourth place in the northern division of Junior Heritage B Hockey league with four points.
In Friday’s game, Oct. 22, The Lightning will host Ponoka Stampeders.
“Ponoka has improved over last year and it is going to be a tough game,” said Smith.