Remembrance Day Weekend Recap
The Pioneers took their first trip to Vulcan to face the Rampage on Friday Nov 10th without a few key members in the lineup. The team has been battling injuries after some tough match ups over the last few weeks. The first period was all Pioneers as they outshot the Rampage 18-7 and jumped to a 1-0 lead 3 min into the game with a goal from Cody Harper, his first of the season after joining the Pioneers 3 games prior. Despite the Pioneers again outshooting the Rampage in the second, they were able to sneak 2 past goalie Meric Larson. The Pioneers didn't bring their usual speed and tenacity in the third and were unable to stage a comeback allowing three more goals from the Rampage conceding this one 5-1. The blueline has been plagued with injury and had a short and beat up bench. Leader Wesley Gryba-Smith noted that "battling the injury was tough for our first game against Vulcan especially. I made sure to take my time warming up and tried to play a smart game where I was not overexerting myself." Coach noted that "the guys have been managing injuries well. We are banged up but continuing to do the work to be at their best. Adversity is a good thing with our young group as they continue to develop and perform."
Despite the long trip home and late arrival, the Pioneers regrouped for their home game rematch against the Rampage the following night Saturday November 11. The night was started off by a special Remembrance Day ceremony to honour those who have fought for our country with special guest retired MCPL Debbie Dufour CD. Oliver Lovely wasted no time in his return from injury and notched 2 goals by the midway point of the 1st. Ackabee continued his production on the front end by making it 3-0 heading into the first intermission. Ty Blackhawk got his first of the season to start the second period making it 4-0 Pioneers. "It felt pretty good to get my first of the season considering how many chances I've had." When asked about the difference between this year's squad and seasons past, Blackhawk said, "What's different this year is our discipline and how we've been able to keep the puck out of our net more. I believe we are just going to keep getting better."
The Rampage slipped one through to make it 4-1 before a dangerous hit in the corner took down Pioneers player Ramirez-Roszko. After a scary delay to safely assist him from the ice to seek medical attention, the Pioneers came out a bit on their heels and traded goals with the Rampage allowing them to stay in it. Goals from Jayden Shott and Kale Williams had the Pioneers up 6-3 going into the second intermission. Rattled from seeing their teammates' injury the Gibbons side conceded two more goals to start the third but rallied for Elijah to get three more goals from their leaders - Lovely, Seth Williams and Burns to seal the game and send the Rampage home with a 9-5 loss.
Captain Seth Williams said, "Following Elijah's injury, the guys came together and used his courage and effort as an example of how we should be playing out there. It caused us to find that extra gear and make the important changes to get us going. Adding two more points to the column feels good. The guys crave the feeling of winning and are only wanting more. We will continue working on ourselves and as a team to be better." Gryba-Smith said of the groups comeback the second night - "I think every player on the team is a leader in their own way. We all learn from each other everyday and work together amazingly. Having the "A" on my jersey is a great honour and I love being able to represent my team and play the role I do." Coach Arsenault was happy with the rally on Saturday night, "We focused on consistent work ethic and will continue to hit that message home."
The Pioneers head to High Prairie on Saturday Nov 18th and are back home against the Rampage on Sunday night at 6:30pm at Gibbons Arena. Half price admission with a donation for the Gibbons Food Bank throughout the remainder of November. Come see the Pioneers and Rampage fight for third place in the standings and join the atmosphere at the arena for games, prizes, raffles and more!! Don't forget to purchase your Pioneers seat cushion and blanket to keep you comfortable during the game.