Thunder finish preseason with one loss
The Airdrie Thunder finished the preseason with a near-perfect record.
However, after four consecutive wins, the Thunder came up short in its fifth and final exhibition game, losing 4-5 to the Cochrane Generals, Sept. 16.
Three games in three nights and playing shorthanded caught up with the Thunder against Cochrane, but Head Coach Cam Aplin was satisfied with the team’s four wins leading into the season opener.
“It was a good evaluation for us and it was good to see we got better as a team,” he said.
“We added more structure and we got used to playing with each other.”
Aplin started the preseason with three goaltenders, but has secured the two who will be splitting goaltending duties for the team this season.
Brett Monkman and Kade Taplin, both first-year players, had strong showings in the season’s tune-up game.
Taplin helped the Storm to an 8-4 win over Okotoks, Sept. 14, while Monkman stopped all but one shot as the Thunder routed the Red Deer Vipers 9-1, Sept. 15.
Taplin and Monkman are among a handful of rookies who cracked the Thunder roster and Aplin said the rigorous schedule of the weekend, while it won’t be as hectic during the regular season, showed the new players how busy the winter will be.
“The normal is to play two games in a weekend,” Aplin said. “To play that many games was good. It gave the young guys more exposure to the game in that level and the competition they’ll be facing. It helps our conditioning, too. I’m a big believer that we need our conditioning to be top notch so that (if) you get into those tight games, you’ll still have that jump in your stride.”
Heading into its first regular season game, Aplin said the roster is nearly set except for a few spots.
With the team 23 strong right now, he said the final number will probably be 21.
“Everybody’s chomping at the bit,” he said. “You want to start playing games for keep. We’re excited about our team and to get going. We have a great group of guys and they’re all pulling in the same direction, which is good to see this early.”
The Thunder will open the regular season at home against the Three Hills Thrashers, Sept. 21.
Game time is 8 p.m. at the Ron Ebbesen Arena.