Airdrie Storm records its second win of new season
It’s a win the Airdrie Storm has been waiting a decade for. The team defeated the Calgary Hilltoppers for the first time in 10 years by a score of 16-14, Sept. 15.
After dropping a three-point decision in the dying minutes of a game against the Cochrane Lions the previous week, the Storm found itself on the other end of the scoreboard this week, taking a two-point lead with only minutes to go against the Hilltoppers.
“This is great,” said Head Coach Steve Kemp. “It’s a big monkey off our back. This is a team we’ve been trying for years to beat and I’ve always felt we had the players to, we’ve just never seemed to make it work. The guys played their tails off and worked really hard from start to finish.”
Noah Chu and Jordan Baldwin split the scoring duties for the Storm, but the win was made possible by the defence that struggled in previous games. With less than five minutes left in the fourth quarter, the defence stymied a Calgary rush just 15 yards short of the end zone. With the ‘Toppers denied another first down, the Storm took possession and led to a 75-yard run by Baldwin, giving the Storm the two-point lead.
“It was a turning point for us,” Kemp said of the play.
“The offence was itching to get on the field after watching their brothers work and they came up with the big stop. They made a big drive and ate up lots of time on the clock and they didn’t give them time to score. The offence feeds off the defence and the defence feeds off the offence. They worked as a team.”
The Storm are now 2-2 on the season and the win against Calgary resonated just as much with the players as it did with the coaches.
“It’s unreal,” said Austin Pelletier, defensive tackle. “Our team can be a little bit lazy, but when we do want to play, we’re unstoppable. I’m going to remember (this win).”
Kemp said the defence was also instrumental in helping the team recover from a jumble of mistakes that could have cost them points.
“Mistakes are going to happen,” he said. “We tried to minimize them and we tried to bounce back as quick as we can. The turnovers could’ve been the death of us, but we found a way to persevere and our defence stepped up big for us.
“(The win’s) going to give us a lot of momentum and confidence. Our offence plays with a lot of confidence and our defence is kind of lacking, but they showed today that they could be one the of the best (defences) in the league.”
While a higher point spread would be ideal, Kemp said as long as the team is winning close games, he’s happy.
“You’d like to (open a point gap), but it’s good because when you get into the playoffs they’re usually tight games. It’s nice to have a few of these close games in the bank so you know what it feels like to be on the wrong end and the good end. This will come back at playoff time and pay dividends.”