As far as the weekend pre-seasoners were concerned, Stettler Lightning did not quite match up to opponents Red Deer Vipers, losing both the Saturday and Sunday games, 5-2 and 7-3 respectively.
Going with a younger lineup, the Stettler squad wanted to ensure that the more seasoned players were being rested enough to get them ready for the first game of the season.
“We went with a younger lineup this weekend to again rest some vets that are a little bumped and bruised,” said Gavin Brandl, head coach of Lightning. “It’s disappointing to lose those two games, especially to Red Deer, but in the grand scheme of things I’m not going to put too much stock into what the score board read.”
Emphasizing on the importance of pre-season games, Brandl said that most of these are opportunities to find better and stronger players, “to see what we need to be focusing on as coaches and to do some fine tuning so that by the time the regular season comes around we are firing on all cylinders.”
According to Brandl, in that sense the weekend was a success because “we have seen what Red Deer will look like and now we know that we can be at the same level as them all season long.”
“A few of our rookies, namely Linden Heidecker and Braydon Whiteford looked like they are starting to get a lot more comfortable playing at this level so as coaching staff we were very pleased with that,” said Brandl.
“On top of that, 17-year-old forward Matt Sylvester was our best player all weekend long, putting up five points and causing a lot of problems for Red Deer with his speed and intelligence.”
“We were very happy with the way our young guys looked this weekend and the few mistakes that were made and that ended up in our net are all very fixable mistakes so there’s nothing to be concerned about,” said Brandl.
Stettler Lightning takes on Vegreville in a home game on Sunday, Sept. 20.