Thunder end regular season 6-4 with loss
It had already solidified its playoff spot, but the Airdrie Thunder had hopes of closing out the regular season with a win.
The team dropped its final game of the season 6-4 to the Blackfalds Wranglers, Feb. 15.
After goals from Aidan Crowther, Alex Hustad and Dane Gallant, the Thunder took a 4-2 lead on an unassisted goal from Daniel Hounjet, but Blackfalds began to mount a comeback, which culminated on a botched clearing attempt by Taylor Crossley that trickled past the Thunder goaltender. The Wranglers sealed the win with its sixth goal a few minutes later.
“We played well for 40 minutes,” said Thunder head coach Cam Aplin. “We played a strong game against the No. 1 team in our division, but we couldn’t close it out.”
Aplin added that keeping momentum in the final period of its last eight or nine games of the season has been a sore spot for the Thunder and one the team has to address before it begins playoffs.
The team also has struggled with discipline over the season. Aplin said the team has been taking less penalties in the last few games, but taking them at inopportune times.
“We’re giving the other team the momentum,” he said. “It’s a matter of playing with our pressure on and keeping our composure. The guys are playing well within our systems, but it’s about playing for 60 minutes.”
The Thunder now move onto the first of its playoff matchups. It’ll face off against the Red Deer Vipers, and Airdrie finished its regular season series with the Vipers with a 1-1-1 record.
“It’ll be a good series,” Aplin said. “We’ve played close games against them. They have a big line that does a lot of their scoring and so do we, so it’s going to be a battle of the other three lines. We need the rest of the guys to step up.
“We also need to get off to good starts like we have been. It’s a matter of continuing to play our game late in the game and stay disciplined. Red Deer likes to mix it up and we can get sucked into that and that’s not our game. That’s when we lose our composure.”
The first game of the best-of-seven series will be played in Red Deer Feb. 23 and the second will be played in Airdrie at the Ron Ebbesen Arena Feb. 24. Game time is 3:45 p.m.