Thunder bank two wins heading into playoffs
The Airdrie Thunder notched two more wins to improve their chances of locking the third-place playoff spot heading into the 2013 post-season.
A 4-2 victory over the Stettler Lightning and a 4-3 win over the Three Hills Thrashers Feb. 1 and 2 respectively gave the team a needed boost heading into the final game of the regular season scheduled for Feb. 15 against Blackfalds.
Both wins this past weekend saw the Thunder play a very strong first two frames, but Three Hills and Stettler were able to claw back in the third period.
“We have been putting together 40 minutes every game, we have to get that third period together,” said Thunder forward Alex Hustad. “I think we are mentally gripping our sticks too tight (in the third).”
While the team is still struggling putting three periods of hockey together, Hustad says both goalies are at the top of their games.
“Both of our goalies look very confident right now,” he said. “They even look good in practices as well.”
One challenge that faces every Junior B club in the league is the fact that many players have full-time jobs, or full-time schooling, which makes attendance during the regular season touch-and-go.
“It’s Junior B after all. We realize that not everyone on the team has hockey at the top of their priorities,” said Hustad. “We do get a commitment from the team for the playoffs.”
Hustad is in his final year with the team, and says he loves to play, and wants to put 100 per cent into his play.
“I want to come out and play hard for the rest of my team,” he said. “I want to show the rookies what it’s going to take to cut it when they get up here.”
If the standings stay where they are right now, the Thunder would take on Red Deer in the first round of the playoffs later this month.
Hustad is confident in his team’s ability to beat Red Deer, but knows it will be a long and physical series.
“They have great forwards, we need to take advantage of their defense. They cough pucks over in deep and we need to attack that,” said Hustad. “We have a good rivalry with Red Deer, I can see it being a rough series.”