Bantam Stamps unable to weather Storm in SHA final

By Gaven Crites

Meadow Lake’s march toward a Batman “B” Division provincial title has come to an end.
The Stampeders were in tough, already down a couple of goals heading into Game 2 in their two-game, total-points series versus the Prairie Storm from Balgonie last Friday at the Meadow Lake and District Arena – the last ice hockey game there this season.
Balgonie’s speed and intensity more than made up for whatever they yielded in size to Meadow Lake, as they defeated the Stamps 4-1 on March 29.
Meadow Lake’s coach, Gary Vidal, likened the Prairie Storm with the old adage: It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.
“They won many of the individual battles and were often the first ones to the puck,” he said of the Balgonie squad. “They did many of the little things that it takes to win at this level better than we did. All year, one of our biggest strengths was our team play. This afternoon, we did not exhibit that same level of team play and as the coach, I take full responsibility. It is my job to have these young men prepared for all circumstances.”
Vidal said his team battled hard and played their hearts out, but on Good Friday, Prairie Storm was the better team.
“I give them credit,” he said. “They’re well-coached and they played hard.”
Meadow Lake captain Jonathan Cheze said Balgonie’s speed and passing were big problems to deal with. But, he has no qualms with how the Stamps performed this season, which met many of his high expectations.
“Everybody worked hard every game,” he said. “It was hard to come all this way and lose, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
The Stamps tied the game 1-1 near the eight-minute mark in the second period on a goal by Jadyn Trimble-Brander, assisted by Alex Vidal. Prairie Storm answered back and then extended the lead, however, and needing to win by at least three goals, the provincial title was basically out of reach for the Stamps when Vidal called a timeout midway through the third period.
“You need to play with dignity,” Vidal told his players. “You need to play out to the end and not be frustrated. Don’t leave a bad taste on a good year and make sure we finish strong. We had a great year, let’s finish with pride.”
Vidal added he challenged the Meadow Lake players the night before the game.
“At the end of the day tomorrow, win or lose, if you leave it all out there and you play your best, you have no reason to hang your head,” he said. “I told them today there are 21 other teams that started this process in provincials that would have traded us for anything. So, they can be proud.”
The team opened the provincial run by beating Unity 5-4 and 6-1. They then downed St. Louis 10-3 and 6-4. They knocked off Melfort in the Northern final 6-3 and 4-1 to get to the championship final against Balgonie – the Southern winner.
In summing up the season, Vidal added it was a fantastic year with a cooperative and supportive group of kids and parents.
“Everyone was all in,” he said. “I can’t say enough good things about what happened this year.”

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