Airdrie Thunder record first win of 2013
It was a monkey off the back of the Airdrie Thunder to win against one of its toughest opponents.
The Thunder defeated the Red Deer Vipers 4-3, Jan. 11 in Airdrie. It was a win the team had been waiting for after dropping its first game of 2013 against the Mountainview Colts and giving up five unanswered goals in a 6-3 loss to the Blackfalds Wranglers, Jan. 8
The game wrapped up the Thunder’s season series against the Vipers with Airdrie recording a win, a loss and a tie against Red Deer.
“That was a desperate win,” said Thunder head coach Cam Aplin. “We had to have that. We’re on a three-game slide and it was an important win especially going down the stretch.”
By the middle of the second period, the Thunder had jumped out to a 4-1 lead with Curtis Bunney, Dylan Johnston, Donavon Henrion and Aidan Crowther netting goals. It would hold onto the lead despite a Red Deer powerplay goal late in the second period and another powerplay tally from the Vipers midway through the third.
Aplin said the Thunder played a solid game offensively despite the three periods being clogged with penalties from both teams. They combined for 40 minutes worth of minor penalties, five two-minute and 10-minute misconduct penalties and five fighting majors handed out over the 60 minutes.
“It was one of our goals to take less penalties,” said Thunder captain Alex Hustad. “We didn’t necessarily do that and it felt like the (refereeing) was a bit on the other side, but we played hard and got ourselves out of it.”
The loss was only Red Deer’s second of the season and the Vipers is now nine points up on the Thunder in the Heritage Junior Hockey League’s (HJHL) North division. Airdrie is sitting in third place.
With less than 10 games left in the season and with Blackfalds and Red Deer having secured the top two spots in the division, the Thunder are sitting comfortably in third and are hoping to still be sitting there when the playoffs roll around.
A third-place finish would help the Thunder avoid the HJHL’s three-game survivor series, which it played last year against the Mountainview Colts after it finished fourth. It wouldn’t grant them home-ice advantage in the semi-finals, but a quicker path to it.
With the regular season winding down and the playoffs on the horizon, Aplin said the team needs to approach its last seven games of the season with a sense of urgency when it comes to winning and scoring.
The Thunder will host the Cochrane Generals in its next home game. Game time is 8 p.m. at the Ron Ebbesen Arena.