Connor Nixon races for the puck in the finals against Rimbey on Saturday

Connor Nixon races for the puck in the finals against Rimbey on Saturday

Stettler Atom A Storm finish second overall after whirlwind playoff season

After entering the playoffs as the number five seeded team, Stettler surprised their competitors by advancing to the finals.

Stettler’s Atom A hockey team ended the season in second place after a 7-3 loss to Rimbey in the final game of the season on Saturday, March 25 in a home game.

After a fifth-place finish in the regular season, the team delivered a number of playoff upsets to make it to the finals.

The first round of the playoffs saw Atom A storm pitted against number four team Didsbury.

After a loss in the first game, Stettler came from behind to win the series with two straight victories, including a 6-5 win in overtime on home ice.

“That [overtime game] was an incredible game because there were so many fans at the Stettler arena,” said Head Coach Troy Anderson. “You looked around the rink and it was just packed. It was almost like being at a Lightning game.”

In the final game of the first playoff series, Stettler played in Didsbury and delivered a decisive 7-2 victory over the home team.

In the second round, Stettler faced off against number one ranked Lacombe.

Stettler was the underdog team in the series, but surprised Lacombe with an 8-6 victory in the first game.

“Lacombe had only lost one game all season,” Anderson explained. “The [team] surprised them in game one.”

After a loss in the second game, the series came down to game three.

“Game three was a great game,” said Anderson. “We won 3-2. I would say it was the best game the kids played all year to win that series, so that was a huge accomplishment.”

The series final came down to a matchup between Stettler and the number two seeded Rimbey team, where Stettler fell to Rimbey in two straight games.

“That was the only team all year we couldn’t beat,” Anderson added. “At the end of the day they deserved to win it.”

Atom A Storm struggled in the final matchup partly because of a scheduling issue, according to Anderson. Rimbey was in provincials and they had to wait a couple of weeks to play that final series and having that layoff “hurt [them] a little bit.”

For Anderson, making the finals was a big victory for the team.

“After finishing fifth, it was a huge accomplishment for us to get to the finals,” Anderson explained. “I was super proud of the kids and how they played.”