Midget Stampeders win home opener

Roper Jones snaps home a shot to give Meadow Lake a 5-3 lead versus the Battleford Barons Oct. 15 at the Meadow Lake Arena. The goal put the game out of reach and gave the Midget Stampeders the win in their opening game of the AA Centre Four Hockey League Season.

By Mac Christie

The Meadow Lake Midget Stampeders started their quest to return to the provincial championships with a 5-3 win over the Battleford Barons Oct. 15 at the Meadow Lake Arena.

The Stampeders started quickly, with Regan Baer tallying the game’s first goal three minutes into the opening frame. He then struck again on the power play, before completing the natural hat-trick less than 30 seconds later.

Meadow Lake coach Gordon Whittle said Baer, usually a defenceman, was impressive on forward.

“That whole line played great,” he said. “Him (Baer), Anthony Radke and Jordan Henri. They really kept the intensity up and led by example.”

Radke, a first-year forward, is new to the team this year because the Parkland AA team folded this year.

“We’re excited to have him,” Whittle said of Radke. “He plays with a lot of intensity and you’d never know he’s a first-year player seeing him on the ice.”

While the Stampeders jumped out to an early lead, Battleford struck back with eight minutes remaining in the first period.

After trading penalties for most of the second, Battleford scored twice in the last two minutes of the period to knot the score at 3-3.

But Meadow Lake jumped back on top with ten seconds left in the frame, when Craig Slater pounced on a loose puck in front of the Battleford net to make it 4-3.

The Stampeders then put the game away with seven minutes to play in the third, with Roper Jones snapping home a wrist shot from the slot to put Meadow Lake on top 5-3.

Meadow Lake Midget Stampeders captain Graeme Barclay carries the puck into the Battleford zone during first period action Oct. 15 at the Meadow Lake Arena. Meadow Lake won the game 5-3 on the strength of Regan Baer's three first period goals.

Whittle said the team played well together, showing good chemistry for the first game of the season.

Despite putting up five goals in the first game, Whittle expects the team, which had two of its top three scorers graduate this year, to play a defensive style.

“Our philosophy is to play defensive-minded hockey and play disciplined,” he noted.

He added second-year goaltender Jared Lafond played well against Battleford.

“They’re looking much more confident (this year),” Whittle said of goaltenders Lafond and Spencer Law. “I think they’re going to great things for us.”

The new hitting-to-the-head rule also impacted the game, as Battleford was called for the infraction three times, and Meadow Lake once.

“We made it very clear to the boys that they’re going to call it every time,” Whittle said. “I thought compared to last year we played much more disciplined.”

Still, for all the positives from the game, assistant coach Scott Franskey said the team still needs work.

“The next thing is going back to our own end and working on the basics,” he said.

For his part, Baer said the game was a better start to the season then last year when the team went 6-15-1.

“Last year we played these guys here, ended up losing and never really had a good season,” he said. “It’s good to start off with a win.”

Whittle added that while last year’s team finished in the bottom half of the AA Centre Four Hockey League, the year before the Stampeders went to the provincial semifinal.

“I see a lot of the same qualities in this team that we saw two years ago,” he said.

The team’s next game is Oct. 23 in Unity.


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