Thunder gunning for league title under new coach
There were a few issues staring down Head Coach Cam Aplin during his first training camp with the Airdrie Thunder, but the level of competition wasn’t one of them.
“The quantity isn’t where we wanted it to be, but the quality of the players sure is,” Aplin said.
The camp, which was held at the Ron Ebbesen Arena, drew approximately 30 new and returning players.
Among the veterans were Daniel Hounjet, Alex Diduch, Kristian Petit, Taylor Crossley and Dylan Johnston, who said the new faces will rejuvenate the team as it heads into the 2012-2013 season.
“I think (the new players) will fit in well,” said Johnston. “We have good size. It’s just a matter of them getting ready for this level. It’s quite a step up from midget and other leagues.
“Last year, we had a great forward core and a lot of younger guys that came out and got a year under their belt. It’s going to be easier for them to adapt and fill those spots.”
Those spots include positions on defence and in net. While many of the forwards and a handful of defencemen are back for another year, Aplin and his assistant coaches, Kyle Bruce and Brandon Miller, are faced with the challenge of rebuilding the team’s goaltending, as both Logan Marlow and Cody Boeckman opted not to return to the team.
“In a perfect scenario you’d have two veteran goaltenders coming back, but it is what it is,” Aplin said.
“We had seven goaltenders out (for camp), so that was a pleasant surprise and they look of quality.
“We just have to get them into some more scrimmages and exhibition games and see what they can do. We’ll fill those two holes, no question, with the guys we have out here.”
This season will be Aplin’s first behind the bench as the Thunder’s head coach, but it won’t be the first time he’s seen the team play.
Aplin attended several Thunder games last year and was able to observe what he wants to alter and what foundations he can build on.
“We want to change the structure for the players,” he said. “We want them to buy into the systems we’re going to implement. I didn’t see a lot of that last year.
“We’re going to bring stability for them. It wasn’t easy for them over the last couple of years. We’re going to give them some systems to work and make sure the work ethic and discipline are there.”
Aplin was pleased to inherit a talented and skilled core of forward players who he said communicate and see the game well, which he is hoping will help lead the team all the way to the top.
He said the team’s goal is to win another division title and its third league championship, to add onto victories in 1997 and 2000. In a perfect world, he said, a provincial championship is also on that list.
“Nothing less than that will be satisfying,” he said.