After opening the season with back-to-back wins, the Stettler Lightning took a tumble in the past week, losing three times in as many Heritage Junior Hockey League games.
All three scores, however, were relatively close.
The Lightning lost 5-3 to the unbeaten Copperheads on Sunday in Coaldale, after falling 5-4 to the Airdrie Thunder on Saturday night in Stettler and 5-3 to the host Blackfalds Wranglers last Tuesday night.
At Coaldale, the league-leading Copperheads — 7-0-1 — outscored Stettler 4-2 in the opening period and chased Lightning starting goaltender Coleman Waddell, who gave up four goals on 14 shots. Three of those goals were power-play markers.
Lyle Wooden scored two Stettler goals and Wyatt Haustein had the other. The lone Lightning assists came from Jacob Schwarzenberger and rookie Clinton Allen, with his first point in the junior B league.
Stettler reliever Simon Thieleman stopped all but one of the 34 shots he faced through the final two periods.
Copperheads goalie Scott Yanota made 34 saves as Coaldale held a 48-37 edge in shots.
Alex Barthel led the Copperheads with two goals and an assist.
Friday night in Stettler, the teams were tied 2-2 after two periods, but Airdrie outscored the Lightning 3-2 in the final 20 minutes.
Landon Potter scored two goals for Stettler, with a power-play marker in the second period and the other with 12 seconds left in the game and Thieleman on the Lightning bench in favour of an extra skater.
Wooden, with another two-point night, and Blake Frechette also scored for Stettler.
Both goaltenders — Thieleman and the Thunder’s Kade Taplin — each faced 39 shots.
Airdrie (2-3-1) got two third-period goals from Donavon Henrion and a goal and three assists from Dylan Johnston.
The Thunder won in Stettler just 24 hours after losing 4-2 to the High River Flyers (3-3) at home Friday night.
The 2-3 Lightning suffered their first loss of the season last Tuesday in Blackfalds, where the 2-0 Wranglers opened a 2-0 lead in the first period.
Thanks to a pair of Reese Anheliger goals, the Lightning regrouped and trailed 3-2 after the second period. Stettler pulled even in the third on a Kyler O’Connor goal, but Blackfalds quickly answered with goals from Jared Williams and Liam Wiese.
Waddell made 34 saves in the Stettler net, while Layne Swier of Blackfalds blocked 32 shots for the victory.
Lightning defenceman Steven Fletcher picked up his first junior B point with an assist in last Tuesday’s game — as did fellow rookie Ricky Armstrong at home Saturday.
Jared Kambeitz assisted on three of the Blackfalds goals in Tuesday’s victory.
O’Connor leads the Lightning with three goals and six points after five games, while defenceman Cam Wright has five assists in as many games.
This Saturday, the Lightning host the Okotoks Bisons at 7:30 p.m. at the Stettler Recreation Centre.
The Bisons (3-2) are coming off a 6-3 win over the Medicine Hat Cubs (4-2-1) on Sunday. Before they tangle with the Lightning, the Bisons host the Cochrane Generals (1-3-1) on Friday night in Okotoks.