Airdrie Thunder end October with win over Stampeders
Two points would’ve been ideal, but the Airdrie Thunder was happy to come away with one, especially against one of the top teams in the league.
The Thunder tied the Okotoks Bisons, 4-4, Oct. 26 in Airdrie.
Airdrie stymied a seven-game winning streak for the Bisons and Head Coach Cam Aplin said it was a step in the right direction for the team, which had won back-to-back games prior to its contest against the Bisons.
“It was a good test for us,” Aplin said. “We played a good hockey game. We could’ve won. Okotoks is good and we went down 4-3, but the boys battled back and got us a point.
“We do need to start finding ways to win those games against these good teams.”
Aidan Crowther returned to the lineup after missing seven games with a shoulder injury and was reunited with linemates Alex Hustad and Hanson.
The trio combined for Airdrie’s first goal of the game, scored by Hanson.
Daniel Hounjet and Dylan Johnston each added tallies, but the Bisons would take a 4-3 lead in the third period.
With less than two minutes left, Hanson scored his second of the game, the tying goal after overtime solved nothing.
The tie against the Bisons, which had been on a seven-game winning streak and are in second place in the Heritage Junior Hockey League’s (HJHL) South division, was a confidence booster for the Thunder, who had been struggling with consistency and staying above .500.
“It’s huge,” Aplin said.
“We were playing with no confidence and when you’re doing that, you can end up going on a big slide. The boys sucked it up and stopped that, so hopefully we can keep that momentum going and get above .500.”
The four games saw the Thunder amass six points out of eight, but also saw a bit of a roster change.
The team lost defenceman Marcus Cheng and Taysen Holt, who had emerged as one of the team’s top scorers. He recorded five goals and five assists in nine games with the Thunder.
Returning to the lineup against Okotoks was forward Alex Diduch, who had been cut by the team in training camp.
Aplin said he was approached by the team’s veterans, who said the Thunder was struggling with toughness and would benefit from Diduch’s toughness on forward.
“He can bring that grit,” Aplin said. “I know he can as long as he stays focused. He wants to come in and help the team and play our system.
“I want him to come in and prove me wrong for the decision I made earlier in the year and I have no problem swallowing my pride. I liked the way he played tonight. He gave us some of that grit.”
Diduch, who dropped the gloves with Okotoks’ Zac Baba in the third period, said he has no hard feelings about the coaches’ decision.
“They made their decision,” he said.
“I just want to play hockey. I want to bring more of the physical aspect and I want to be able to get some points as well. It’s my last year to play.”
The Thunder will kick off November at home against the Stettler Wildcats, Nov. 2.
Results were not available at press time.