Thunder splits opening games
After watching his team take to the ice for its opening two games of the preseason, Airdrie Thunder Head Coach Cam Aplin was happy with how his squad performed against the defending Heritage Junior Hockey League (HJHL) champion Okotoks Bisons.
“I am pleased with the talent that I am seeing out there,” Aplin said. “The young guys have come in here and played well, and our veterans shouldered the load and did most of the scoring over the weekend.”
The Thunder started off its exhibition slate with a 3-1 triumph over the Bisons at the Ron Ebbesen Arena in Airdrie on Sept. 6, but came out on the losing end of a 3-1 score on Sept. 8 in Okotoks.
“We looked a lot flatter out on the ice and we just didn’t have our legs moving in our second game like we did at home,” Aplin said. “We played a good game overall, but we just didn’t have that same jump.
“On Friday night (Sept. 6), we were able to limit their chances and put more pressure on them in the third period and that comes down to the guys’ conditioning and how hard they have been working in practice.”
Calgary’s Aidan Crowther was the pace setter for the Thunder during the weekend, as he scored the team’s lone goal on Sept. 8 and had the first marker in the home contest against the Bisons.
Airdrie-native Taylor Crossley broke the deadlock on Sept. 6 with a power-play goal in the third period, while fellow Airdronian Dane Gallant sealed the team’s triumph with a breakaway goal in the last minutes of the contest.
“I was just lucky to be in the right spot at the right time,” Gallant said. “Last year, we gave up quite a few leads in the last few minutes of our games, and we hope that we can change that around this year.”
Next up for the Thunder will be a pair of exhibition games against the Mountainview Colts of Didsbury, with the first meeting taking place at the Ron Ebbesen Arena on Sept. 13 at 8 p.m.
Both teams will meet again in Didsbury for another matchup on Sept. 14 at 8 p.m.
“We really want to start to fine-tune our game this weekend,” Aplin said. “We plan to set some (forward) lines so that everyone gets more familiar with one another and we are going to go over systems a lot as well in practice.”
After those two games with the Colts, Aplin plans to finalize the Thunder’s roster prior the start of the HJHL regular season, which will begin on Sept. 20 at the Ron Ebbesen Arena when the Thunder will play host to the Cochrane Generals at 8 p.m.