The Bolts left the arena in Blackfalds empty-handed on Sunday, Feb. 12 as they played the Wranglers and lost 5-4 in double overtime.
Leading 4-0 at one point, the Bolts quickly slipped up in the third period as the Wranglers netted four goals in less than eight minutes beating the Bolts’ confidence and finally winning the game in double overtime.
“It stings no doubt,” said Head Coach Gavin Brandl. “But the series went pretty much exactly how I thought it would, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if when it’s all said and done the league looks back on this series as the tightest contest in all of the playoffs.”
Dawson Beck started the scoring for Stettler in the game, as the Bolts led 1-0. Another goal in the second period by Logan Davidson, put the Bolts in a commanding 2-0 lead.
Starting the third period with a Quade Cassidy classic, followed by his second goal was the best scenario the Bolts had ever been against Blackfalds, leading 4-0.
To think from there the Bolts would lose the game was a far stretch of anyone’s imagination, but sometimes the impossible can be achieved as the Wranglers showed.
They scored four times in less than eight minutes, shattering the Lightning defence and forcing the game into overtime.
And soon enough the Wranglers took advantage of their confidence and slipped in the fifth goal, clinching the series.
“Basically three one-goal games, we managed to sneak in an empty netter in our win at home but both the other games went to double overtime,” Brandl said. “It doesn’t get any closer than that.”
According to Brandl there’s not much sense in dwelling on the “shoulda, coulda, woulda” aspect of it.
“I have no regrets about anything we did and I hope the boys feel the same about the effort they put forth,” Brandl stated.
He said that is team played as close to perfect hockey as they had at any point in the season.
“My honest to goodness opinion is that our same group with another year of experience and physical maturity would not have lost that series.”
Brandl added that he was not using their youth as an excuse, but that’s just the reality of it.
“When they really started to push hard we got outmanned down low in our own end and that was how they stayed alive,” Brandl said. “But it sure as heck wasn’t for a lack of effort or will. The boys gave absolutely everything they had.”
Brandl would rather look back at the season and see how far the Lightning has come as a team and what they can do in the next season.
“To me it is a much better use of energy to look at the season we had as a resounding statement about what the future holds for the organization,” Brandl added. “We are set up beautifully moving forward, and for me losing this series just makes me want to get right back to work preparing for that.”
Brandl thanked the Stettler community for their support and all the sponsors, volunteers and parents who tirelessly put in their energy and resources into the team.
“We had incredible fan support again this season and I can’t thank the community enough for always making Stettler a fun place for our guys to play. Huge thanks also to all of our sponsors, volunteers and parents – it was heck of a season and we couldn’t do it without them!”