As the regular season in the Heritage Junior B Hockey League drew to a close, the Lightning of Stettler once again baffled their fans by losing 7-5 to Ponoka in a home game while beating their nemesis, the Red Deer Vipers 7-4 on the opponent’s home ice.
On Friday, Feb. 11, within five minutes of the drop of the puck on the ice at the Big Valley arena, there were three goals on the scoreboard for the visiting Stampeders.
The visitors practically scored on their every trip to the Lightning net, which resulted with the substitution of the goalie early in the game.
The Lightning offense did stage a spectacular comeback in the third period scoring three goals to tie the game 5-5 at one point, but the Stampeders came back with one goal, and when in the last minute the Lightning pulled aside the goalie to be able to score for another tie, they saw another goal in the empty net.
On Monday, Feb. 14, it was a totally different story.
Although Red Deer Vipers did take the lead in the first period, Lightning players decided enough was enough and pounded the Vipers net with shot after shot, scoring three goals in each of the last two periods, shutting the opponents out.
Head coach Doug Smith said they outshot the Stampeders almost two to one in the game in Big Valley but that they could not find the back of the net.
Coach Smith said he believed his players could play better and win over Red Deer Vipers in the playoff series which gets underway on Saturday, Feb. 19 at the Red Deer Arena.
“I hope that we have now found the mental toughness to go through this series,” said Smith.
“I think we are ready for the series.”
Reminding that it is the Red Deer side which is under pressure to have to win the series given their record so far, Coach Smith said this could be to their advantage if the players keep their best efforts.
“They are hands down favorites and that’s pressure for them” said Smith, adding that they were able to upset the favorites.
Smith said, of his players, only Tyson Glazier had an injury problem with his shoulder, but that all other players were ready for the series.
Following the first game of the series in Red Deer on Saturday, Feb. 19, the Lightning will host the Vipers on Sunday at the SRC at 7 p.m.