Thunder players ready for 2013/14 season to get underway
With training camp and the exhibition schedule now a thing of the past, the players on the Airdrie Thunder are anxious to get the Heritage Junior Hockey League season underway.
The long wait for opening night will come to an end on Sept. 20, as the Thunder will take to the ice at the Ron Ebbesen Arena to take on the Cochrane Generals at 8 p.m.
“I always like starting the year off at home, as the crowd is right into the game with you,” said third-year Thunder forward and Calgary native Aidan Crowther. “We only play Cochrane twice a year, and those games get pretty heated and rough, so I think the fans should be expecting to see a physical battle here.”
The new players on the Thunder are also excited about getting the HJHL campaign underway, including Airdrie’s own Trevor Strong, who joined his hometown team after playing for the Strathmore Wheatland Kings last year.
“It’s a better feeling to be playing here for sure,” the 19-year-old forward said. “It’s obviously closer to home, and to have all of my friends and family around makes it a much better experience.”
After opening its preseason with a win and a loss against the Okotoks Bisons on Sept. 6 and 8, the Thunder concluded its exhibition slate with a two-game set against the Mountainview Colts from Didsbury.
The first meeting between the two sides in Airdrie on Sept. 13 was one that the Thunder would like to forget, as it suffered a 6-1 setback to the Colts.
The second leg of the home-and-home series on Sept. 14 was more successful for the Thunder, as it left Didsbury with a 3-1 victory in its back pocket.
“We did a few good things and a few bad things in those games, but we can always get better,” Crowther said. “The guys have been working hard all of the time, but we still need to do a little bit of work on our systems.”
“We also need to fix up our play on the power play and the penalty kill, as it will be very important to have those things working in our favour when we start off the season,” he added.
While there are still a few aspects of its game that the Thunder is looking to shore up, Strong believes the amount of talent up front will allow the team to have a successful season.
“We have a lot of good players here that can carry the puck up the ice and score goals,” he said. “I think that we are going to be a team that will be scoring a lot of goals this year because of that.”
“But in order to do that, we need to make sure that our breakout plays are good, as we need to get the puck out of our own end and keep it in their end for as long as possible,” he added.
Following its home opener on Sept. 20, the Thunder will travel to Coaldale on Sept. 22 for a 3 p.m. contest with the Coaldale Copperheads.