Thunder fighting to stay alive against Colts
The Airdrie Thunder will need to win two straight games if it wants to make it out of the first round in the Heritage Junior Hockey League (HJHL) playoffs.
Despite three points from its top scorer Kristian Petit, the Junior B team dropped a 5-4 decision to the Mountainview Colts in game one of the best-of-three series at the Ron Ebbesen Arena, Feb. 12.
Game two was scheduled to take place in Didsbury on Feb. 15, after the City View went to press. Visit www.airdriecityview.com for an updated game story and whether or not game three will happen back in Airdrie on Feb. 17.
Petit scored twice and added an assist, while captain Travis Wallan and Daniel Hounjet added singles for the Thunder, which gave up four goals in the second period. Cody Boeckman took the loss in net.
“It was a 10-minute mental collapse,” said assistant coach Gareth Barley. “Didsbury stepped up its physicality in the second period, which put us on our heels. There were a couple of plays you wouldn’t expect our team to make, especially in playoffs – mistakes, turnovers. Other than that, we played exactly how we wanted to play.”
Airdrie held a 2-0 lead after the first, but gave up five straight to the Colts. The Thunder scored twice late to come within one, but wasn’t able to force overtime.
Barley said the team’s nine-day layoff from the end of its regular season to the start of the playoffs wasn’t a factor, although he knew the first round would pose its challenges.
“This series was kind of dubbed the ‘Suicide Series,’ as Red Deer (the No. 1 seed, which will play the winner) expects us to beat up each other for three games, then go in banged up to play them,” he said.
The Thunder will now have to play with a sense of urgency for two games, as it faces elimination. Barley said there would be some line changes for game two, as well as the likelihood of Logan Marlow starting in net, but that the team wouldn’t alter its strategy greatly.
“In practice, we talked about the mistakes (from game one). We worked on speed and game-situation stuff,” he said.
“But at this point in the year, you’re not going to change anything, you’re not going to instill anything new, you’re just fine-tuning things for the upcoming game. I think they are a very beatable team and I think we match up better than them on paper. But you’ve got to be ready for playoffs.”