Thunder drops opening round series to Mounainview Colts
Having lost game one at home, the Airdrie Thunder went into Didsbury on Feb. 15 knowing it would need its best effort in order to prolong the season.
Spotting the Mountainview Colts a 4-0 lead less than 22 minutes into game two of the teams’ first round Heritage Junior Hockey League (HJHL) playoff series wasn’t what the Junior B team had in mind.
The Thunder was never able to recover and ultimately dropped a 6-3 decision to the Colts at the Didsbury Memorial Complex – thus eliminating Airdrie from the post-season.
“I think, honestly, for us, it was nervousness,” said Thunder head coach Mike Carlsen.
“We were holding the sticks a little tight and were getting away from the simple things.”
Travis Wallan scored twice in the third for Airdrie, while Harrison Harper had Airdrie’s other goal. Logan Marlow started the game in net, but was pulled in favour of Cody Boeckman after Mountainview extended its lead to four during the second period.
“We had to spark ourselves somehow,” Carlsen said of the switch. “We had to throw it out and see what happens. But when we finally started to get our push, it came too late.”
The Colts opened the scoring when Beau Jackson put a loose puck past a sprawling Marlow 4:46 into the game. The Thunder had a 5-on-3 man advantage for 49 seconds moments later, but was unable to capitalize.
Mountainview’s Taylor Olsen extended the Colts’ lead to two, with 3:38 left in the first, when he took advantage of sloppy defensive zone play by Airdrie and put a wrist shot into an open net.
Carlsen said if the Thunder could have finished on some of its chances in the first, especially on the power play, the result may have been different.
“You get that momentum rolling your way, you’re able to calm down and relax a bit; it might have changed things,” he said. “You never know. You get a bounce here; you get a bounce there. That’s the way hockey goes.”
Ryan Thomson and Olsen, with the eventual game-winner, each scored in the first two minutes of the second to put the Colts up 4-0. Harper placed a wrist shot from the point past Mountainview goalie Ethan Jemieff on the power play at the 6:26 mark, but Airdrie was unable to sustain any pressure.
Thunder forward Logan Smith and the Colts’ Evan Ingram were ejected for fighting moments later, while Airdrie’s Ryan Preston and Alex Diduch were also ejected for instigating fights in the third period.
Jason Edwards and Olsen, with his hat trick goal, scored in the third to put Mountainview ahead 6-1. Wallan added two goals in the final 3:31, but said he knew it came too late.
“I guess that was the biggest thing,” said the Thunder’s 21-year-old captain, who played his final HJHL game. “I’m pretty disappointed and thought we had a better team than that. I didn’t really want to go out like that either – losing 6-3 wasn’t really close.”
Airdrie’s only other 21-year-old player was Ryan Russell. He shared Wallan’s disappointment.
“It’s probably the worst feeling,” he said. “But I just tried to take it like another game and whatever happened, happened. I just wanted to enjoy the last game with the guys.”
“Every year there are those 21-year-olds,” Carlsen said. “This year there are only two – Wallan and Russ, there – they played their hearts out all year. Wally had two goals in the last two minutes or whatever – he just didn’t want to say die. That’s the way they’ve played. I have a lot of respect for both of those guys.”
“It was the best four years of hockey I’ve ever had,” Russell said. “It was good times and I’ll never forget them.”