Thunder lose season opener to Generals
As he stood outside the dressing room following his team’s 3-2 loss to the Cochrane Generals on Sept. 20, Airdrie Thunder Assistant Coach Kyle Haviland couldn’t help but lament his team’s slow start in its opening contest of the Heritage Junior Hockey League season.
“We weren’t ready mentally there at the start of the game,” Haviland said. “We were not competing hard for the puck, and our pursuit of the puck was not the way that it should have been.”
“Things did get better as the game went on, but you have to play 60 minutes to win a game, and not just 30 to 40 minutes a night,” he added.
After allowing a goal just 90 seconds into the contest, the Thunder was unable to turn things around over the course of the first two periods, as they would find themselves trailing by a score of 3-0.
In fact, the deficit that the Thunder found themselves in could have been a lot worse if not for the play of goaltender Kade Taplin, who made a number of big saves to keep his team in the game.
“Kade was one of the strongest players on the ice tonight,” Haviland said. “He’s a very solid player out there, and that is the kind of performance that we always expect from him.”
As the third period wore on, the Thunder was finally able to find the back of the net, as goals from Austin Maase and Taylor Crossley allowed the host to cut its deficit down to just one goal.
“I was pleased by what I saw in the third period from the guys, as they were playing some desperate hockey,” Haviland said. “They were competing for the puck to get it first, driving to the net and getting into good position.”
Though it had a couple of late chances on the powerplay, the Thunder was unable to get the tying goal it desired, which allowed the Generals to take the victory.
“It’s pretty awesome to get a win here,” Generals goalie Matt Shawchuk said. “We are rivals with Airdrie, so we love to take it to them when we can, especially at the start of the year.”
Since the Thunder lost its second game of the season in Coaldale on Sept. 22 in a 4-3 affair with the host Copperheads, it heads into a pair of games this weekend in search of its first win of the season.
As the team prepares for a home game at 8 p.m. on Sept. 27 against the Three Hills Thrashers at the Ron Ebbesen Arena, and a trip to Ponoka to take on the Ponoka Stampeders on Sept. 28, Haviland is hoping the team’s slow start will be a thing of the past.
“At this point, we need to help them with those types of things,” he said.
“We will be working with them to recognize that situation and just continue to remind them of being in the game right from the start.”