On a weekend where the team, and hockey, was in the spotlight in the lakecity for Rogers Hometown Hockey, the Williams Lake Stampeders staved off Okanagan upstarts the Kelowna Sparta in back-to-back games.
The Stampeders skated to a 6-5 victory Saturday evening in front of a packed barn at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex featuring special guest, Rogers Hometown Hockey co-host Tara Slone dropping the puck to jumpstart the crowd.
Sunday, Williams Lake fell behind 3-0 early, but clawed from behind in a 5-4 thriller.
“It was an awesome weekend,” Stampeders president Marko Zurak said of the two exhibition games. “Both games were pretty close. They were both good games. Some of those guys for Kelowna were pretty darn good players.”
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The Sparta aren’t members of the Central Interior Hockey League, however, are battling to earn a spot at the Coy Cup Senior Men’s ‘AA’ Provincial Championships behind hosted by the Stampeders this coming March 27-31 at the CMRC. The Sparta will meet the Powell River Regals later this season, with the winner earning a qualifying berth to the Coy Cup.
Scoring in the winning effort Saturday night were Jassi Sangha (2), Wilfred Robbins, Spencer Brooks and Dan Boyle.
Sunday, it was Robbins lighting the lamp twice, with Travis Flaherty, Tyrel Lucas and Danny Merth tallying singles. Nathan Zurak also contributed four assists in the victory.
The Stampeders were also showcased as part of the live broadcast of Rogers Hometown Hockey Sunday in Williams Lake with hosts Ron MacLean and Tara Slone in a feature on the team which aired during the Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks game.
“It was just a really, really good experience,” Zurak said. “It was nice to see those people you see on TV all the time, and they were genuinely interested in everything that was going on, so it was fun experience.
“I just the think the whole weekend was a good weekend for the city. It definitely got us some national exposure.”
The Stampeders have two games left in its regular season — both on the road — as the team will travel to Prince Rupert this weekend, Saturday, Jan. 13, to take on the Rampage, before heading on to Kitimat for a date with the Ice Demons on Sunday, Jan. 14.
The Stamps are currently in second place in the CIHL — three points back of the league-leading Terrace River Kings — with eight wins, five losses and one overtime loss.