June 18th, 2024

Overtime loss costs Lethbridge Lightning league championship

By Lethbridge Herald on March 28, 2022.

By Justin Seward

Lethbridge Herald

The Lethbridge Lightning senior AA team lost 3-2 in the first overtime to the Nanton Palominos in the decisive Game 5 of the Ranchland Hockey League Championship on Sunday night at the ATB Centre.

The Palominos’ Brady Reagan was the overtime hero at 4:18 of extra time on the powerplay to clinch the championship.

“The guys, they played like champions,”  said Shay Wirll, Lightning head coach.

“They played like a team that should have won. I believe they should’ve won — like I said, sometimes the bounces don’t go your way — and you’ve got to deal with it. But, the guys, I’m proud of them. They’re proud of themselves, what we’ve been able to accomplish over the course of this year has been amazing. We just continue on. We keep building, take it step by step.”

To get to the championship final was a huge step for the organization.

“We’ve been building this for four years, he said.

“We had a tough one with COVID, but everybody did. We came out, we did what we could in the off season to bring guys in. We did a great job of doing that. The guys came out, we had the right guys. I’d take these guys any day over any other team in this province.”

Wirll has taken every day as a learning experience.

“By all means, I’m not perfect, he said.

“I make a lot of mistakes. I just appreciate that the guys support me. We support each other through the mistakes, the hard times, the good times and we come out as unit and that is what I think is key.”

Lightning captain Cole Matson had to sit for final game after sustaining a broken hand in Game 4, but took some time to reflect on the loss.

“It’s hard,” said Matson.

“We’ve got a good group of guys. Everybody’s pretty close knit in there. We really believed that this was going to be the year that we did it. You can’t ask for more — we went to war — and we just felt like we came out on the short end of some bounces.”

Matson has been in the league for at least decade and to sit out the last game was tough.

“These guys gave me everything,” he said.

“I tried to give them everything and to sit here and watch helpless on the sidelines was excruciating.”

“We left it right to the very end that’s for sure,” said Palominos head coach Kelly Otto.

“But we knew that, we wanted good hockey coming here and that’s what we gave everybody.”

Otto says they knew what they were up against.

“They’ve got some high-end players and we had try and match player for player and then it becomes your depth. Every game we’ve had has been a goaltending battle. This one was different right.

Nanton won Games 1, 4,5 and the Lightning took Games 2 and 3.

The Palominos will head to the Senior AA Provincials in Fort Saskatchewan from April 7-10.

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