By Carson Ellis
The Stettler Imperials season came to an end on Feb. 26 following a 6-5 overtime loss in Sedgewick. The loss occurred during the best-of-three series which Stettler forced to a third game with what would be the team’s final home-ice victory of the season on Feb. 25.
The Feb. 25 game started with a few ‘ice-ups’ with both teams getting a feel for each other. Both teams spent a bit of time in each end at first with more back and forth play happening as things got underway.
The Sabres took the first penalty with two-minutes for holding.
Capitalizing on the power play, the home team scored at 10:46 with a goal which Claye Spady slipped the puck in with an assist from Jacob Schwarzenberger.
Less than a minute later Sedgewick took another penalty. This time a two-minute call for interference.
Stettler took the next two penalties with JJ Fournier getting a slashing penalty, while forward Quade Cassidy would be called out for hooking.
The Sabres took advantage of the power play with a goal just a few minutes later. Only to receive a slashing penalty themselves.
In the last two minutes of play, Schwarzenberger managed to score assisted by Quade Cassidy. The Imperials closed the first period with 14 shots on goal to the Sabres 10
The Sabres pushed back off the start. A shot on goal within a few seconds was stopped by the Imperials goalie, who would be kept busy for the remainder of the period.
Sedgewick was called with a roughing penalty within a few minutes.
Stettler quickly moved on the manned-advantage. Adam Ternes scored on the power play with assistance from teammates Kieran Rost and Claye Spady.
Once the teams were back to equal strength, they managed to keep fans entertained with fast-paced hockey action.
Sedgewick and Stettler each scored during the latter stages of the period, with Schwarzenberger marking his third goal of the playoffs. Teammates Rost and Ternes assisting.
Both teams would take a roughing penalty at the same time. Stettler’s Lowen Cassidy also took two-minutes for hooking, which Sedgewick capitalized on with a power play goal.
The last eight minutes of game play would see Sedgewick closing the gap on Stettler with an unassisted goal. Stettler’s Cassidy would score with an assist by Schwarzenberger and Kistner. However, Stettler’s Cody Wright would take a cross checking penalty as well.
Second period close saw the Imperials leading 5-4 with the Imperials shots on goal at 26 and Sabres 25.
Both teams came out ready for action. Neither side showing any signs of fatigue after two full periods of fast-paced hockey. Sedgwick took a penalty for cross checking early on, which Stettler was unable to capitalize on.
Both teams proceeded to play fast and hard with hardly any pause in game play. Stettler would make three regular play goals. Tye Mulgrove would score on a rebound from Adam Ternes and Jacob Schwarzenberger. Sedgewick and Stettler would volley the puck about the ice a few more times, both teams playing fast and clean, before Quade Cassidy would put another one on the board with the help of Ethan and Kieran Rost. Austin Stahlberg would cap off Stettler’s batch of three goals in less than ten minutes. Mulgrove and Spady would earn assists.
As the third period drew to a close, goals would give way to penalties. Sedgewick took two-minutes for interference and Stettler’s Brett Muhlbach picked up a double-minor penalty for spearing. Sedgewick would take the last penalty of the game. They received two-minutes for roughing.
As the horn blew to end the game, Stettler would win 8-4 with both teams putting in a fantastic effort. The Stettler Imperials finished with 38 shots on goal, only up by four over the visiting team. The Stettler win would tie the series, and both teams played again in Sedgwick Sunday night.
Despite a hard-fought game, being pushed into overtime, the Imperials were unable to secure the win and exited the playoff series during the first round.
Even though Sedgewick had home-ice advantage, the Imperials still managed to 0utshot the Sabres 52-46.
With the season done, the Imperials will be setting a date for the end of year banquet in the coming days.