Stettler Lightning have struck out in the first round of the playoffs in the Heritage Junior B Hockey League after being swept by the Red Deer Vipers in three straight games in the north division semi-finals.
“We would like to have extended the series but we didn’t capitalize on several key scoring opportunities,” said head coach Doug Smith who completed his third year as head coach.
Red Deer capped the series as the Vipers edged the Lightning 4-3 in overtime Feb. 20 in the third game of the best-of-five series.
Each team traded a goal in each period before the Vipers netted the winning goal at 5:12 of overtime.
Clayton Herzog scored a pair for the Lightning while Adam McDavid added single.
“We had chances to win the game in the third period and overtime but we just failed when we had opportunities,” said Smith.
Hosting the Lightning in game two, the Vipers crushed Stettler 8-2 on Feb. 19.
Stettler actually jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the second period as
Brett Ouellete scored in the first period at 19.49 on the power play before and Herzog netted the second Lightning marker at four minutes before the Vipers scored eight unanswered goals the rest of the way.
“The second game was tighter than the score indicated,” said head coach Smith.
“After the Vipers started to score in the second period, we started to sag.”
Red Deer doubled the Lightning 4-2 as Clayton Herzog and Adam McDavid scored for Stettler in the opening game Feb. 16 at Stettler Recreation Centre.
“We made just a couple of mistakes that cost us a couple of goals,” said Smith.
Clayton Herzog, Claye Spady, Brett Muhlbach and Robb David played their final games as they become overage for the league next season.
“After a couple of runs to the championship final, and losing several key players for this season, we knew it would be a building year,” said head coach Smith.
“Some of the new players had a strong second half of the season, so hopefully this will carry to next season,”
Stettler fell to the Cochrane Genrerals in the league final series the two previous seasons.
Now the Lightning prepare for the team’s annual awards night this spring.