It was quite the storm at the Stettler Recreation Centre on Friday as the Stettler Lightning and the Airdrie Thunder came together for one of the best hockey games the Lightning have played all season, resulting in a 4-3 win over the second-place Storm.
The Friday, Nov. 13 game started with a moment of silence for Blair Chapman, who recently passed away. Chapman, a special needs man, had been involved with the hockey club almost since its inception more than 20 years ago. At one point, before his retirement from the team, he was given the honorary title of assistant general manager.
The team, for the rest of the season, will be wearing Chapman’s number on their helmets as a sign of respect for the former Lightning enthusiast, who died unexpectedly of a heart attack.
Once the Lightning took the ice, it was clear they were interested in not just winning, but winning hard for Chapman, with Jacob Bottomley putting the team on the board 30 seconds in. Two minutes later, Chandler Knibb upped the score to 2-0, which held until about half-way through the period, when Thunder narrowed the gap to 2-1.
Dylan Houston widened the gap anew early in the second period, with Steven Fletcher following up about five minutes later on a powerplay to bring the score to 4-1.
Despite Airdrie’s best attempts, the visiting team was only able to narrow the gap to 4-2 and the third was dwindling to a close. The Lightning kept alert on their feet, their defence keeping Airdrie’s offence out of their end of the ice.
With 3:10 left on the board, Airdrie pulled its goalie out to give themselves a man advantage on the Lightning, and the Thunder stormed the ice, hemming the Lightning into their end. Shot after shot was fired on goalie Tyler McLaughlin, who, to his credit, appeared he would manage to keep the Airdrie offence at bay.
With 20 seconds on the clock, Airdrie scored, bringing the tally to 4-3, but weren’t able to repeat the act. As the clock ticked down, the crowd went wild for their home team.
The next day’s game, however, was an entirely different story.
Stettler hosted the first-place team in the league, the Cochrane Generals, and were crushed 7-1. The game started on a fairly even keel, with Logan Davidson scoring to even the score to 1-1 early in the first. From then-on, it was the Lightning trailing the Generals, trying to catch up with the nimbler team.
As the game went on, frustrations began to spike, with the Lightning earning several penalties that put them at a disadvantage — though, to the team’s credit, the penalty busting was up to par and the Generals were never able to nab a goal while the Lightning were short-handed.
The Lightning also played the Blackfalds Wranglers on Tuesday, Nov. 17, but results were not available by press time.
It’s a another home-game weekend this weekend, with the Lightning hosting the Red Deer Vipers on Friday, and the Ponoka Stampeders on Saturday. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m.