After a rough first and second period, the Stettler Lightning came back in force to even up the score to end the third with a tied 3-3 score, sending it into overtime.
The Saturday, Oct. 4 game saw the Lightning hit the ice with feeling, scoring the first goal just over 12 minutes into the period, off the stick of assistant captain Reese Anheliger.
The challenger, the Cochrane Generals, capitalized on a few unlucky bounces – the first off the leg of a Stettler player, the second off the skate – to first even out and then pass the Lightning on the scoreboard. It seemed the first would end with a 2-1 deficit for Stettler, but with less than a minute left in the period, Steven Fletcher snuck the puck past the Generals’ goalie, tying up the score.
The second period didn’t go well for the Lightning, though, as the Generals launched a major offensive, hemming in the home team.
At about four minutes in, the Generals scored, bringing the score to 3-2, and though the Lightning’s defensive line and goalie Simon Thieleman kept them to that one goal, the Generals froze the Lightning out of the second.
“I thought we should have done better…we were hemmed in,” general manager and head coach Doug Smith said after the game.
In the third, the Lightning returned to the rink with resolve, and five minutes into the period, Cody Hoskins tied the game for the third time, scoring for Stettler and bringing the game to an even 3-3.
“The third was pretty much all us,” Smith said. “We’re seeing a lot of discipline and are starting to feel a little more comfortable. We have two fairly solid lines and now it’s just settling the next two.”
Five minutes of a fourth overtime period went by scoreless, though Stettler kept the pressure on, outperforming the Generals three to one on shots on net.
With a scoreless fourth period, the game went into a shoot-out finish. Stettler kept the game’s goalie, Thieleman, in net for the shootout, and he stopped all attempts until the fifth round, when Cochrane’s Kurt Thrussel got past him, ending the game 4-3 for the Generals.
The Lightning now take to the road for several away games, first on Saturday in Mountain View, and then on Sunday in Banff.
“(Mountain View) has scored piles of goals and they have big time offence,” Smith said, “But they’ve also given up piles of goals. I think the game is going to be about our defensive game. If we play a good defence, we can win it.”
On Wednesday, Oct. 15 Stettler will face the last-place team in the league, Ponoka, on their home turf, before returning home for a Sunday, Oct. 19 3:30 p.m. afternoon game, where they’ll face Airdrie. They also play on Tuesday, Oct. 21 at 8:30 p.m. in Stettler, where they’ll face Blackfalds.