Stettler Lightning split their two consecutive home games last weekend winning 2-0 against Strathmore Wheatland Kings and losing 7-3 to the superb Cochrane Generals.
In the rich-in-fistfight, dry-in-score Friday game, visiting Wheatland Kings made a speedy start to the first period trying to establish themselves on the rink, but the Lightning were quick to challenge the Kings’ game plan and started to mount coordinated attacks against the opponents’ net.
Yet, the Kings’ defense did not allow any goal in the first period.
Rising tensions after several players were sent to the penalty box following consecutive fistfights led to more crashing of players to the boards and this brought an almost tragic moment to the game.
Crashed to the board after a collision with a Lightning player, Brandon Grasdahl of the Wheat Kings collapsed and lost consciousness.
The game was suspended for more than 20 minutes and the emergency services were brought into the arena to take the injured player to the hospital.
After the injured player was carried out of the arena, the game resumed with all players visibly much more reticent to go into collisions.
Adoption of a softer game posture by the players of both sides allowed more speedy and uninterrupted moving of the puck on the ice, benefiting the the Lightning who scored just four minutes from the end of the second period when Steve Blacklock converted in a long range shot.
In the third period, the Lightning continued to put pressure on the visitors, resulting in the second goal, scored by Jake Scwarzenberger.
Doug Murphy, president and the coach of the Wheatland Kings said after the game that Grasdahl would probably see doctors a few more times but that he was doing fine.
The next day, when the Lightning hosted Cochrane Generals, it was a completely different game.
Arguably the fastest skating team that the Lightning has hosted since the beginning of this season, the Generals did not take a lot of time to establish their dominance on the ice with their powerful control of both the puck and the rink.
It was in just 20 seconds within the drop of the puck that the Generals scored their first goal, followed by their second in just two minutes.
The Generals deployed very efficiently on the ice, and imposed their game plan with well targeted passing and fast movement.
They scored their third goal in the 15th minute of the first period, yet the Lightning were not to be intimidated.
After the third goal, the Lightning started to make increasingly frequent trips to the Generals’ net, an effort which paid off when Mitch Finkbiner scored the local team’s first goal with a smart move from close range.
In the second period, the Lightning intensified their pressure on the Generals’ goaltender.
Hopes were raised when Kyler O’Connor scored once again for the Lightning making it 3-2.
Although the Generals struck once again three minutes later, opening their lead to two goals, The Lightning still had the fighting spirit to remain in the game.
It was just two minutes later that the turning point of the game came: A goal scored by the Lightning was called off by the referees on grounds that the Generals goalie had his helmet dropped off at the time of the strike.
After that moment, the Lighting kept fighting but it was not to win the game.
The Generals, for their part, kept on attacking and scoring, with their last goal coming just two seconds from final buzz.
Lightning head coach Doug Smith praised the defense, and particularly the goal tender Landon Schmidt, for their excellent performance on Friday night against the Kings.
As for the game against the Generals, Smith said the outcome could have been quite different if the Lightning goal had not been called off or the puck had not been deflected from the bar in another shot during the second period.
With five losses and four wins, the Lightning currently sit at the third place in the northern division of the Heritage Junior B Hockey League.
The Lightning now play Rimbey Rock in an away game on Saturday, Nov. 6.
“That team looks to be struggling quite a bit and we don’t want to be their first victory of the season,” Smith said.