Captains hat-trick leads Thunder to first home triumph of the season
For the second time in his hockey career, Calgary centre Aidan Crowther earned a hat-trick as he scored three consecutive goals in the second period to help the Airdrie Thunder pick up a 7-5 win over the Stettler Lightning on Oct. 4 at the Ron Ebbesen Arena in Airdrie.
Though he had achieved the same feat four years ago while playing for the Calgary Northstars in midget, Crowther felt his second hat trick meant a little bit more.
“As the game was getting tighter closer to the end there, it was good knowing that the goals that I scored were enough of a cushion to help us earn the win,” said 20-year-old Crowther. “To play a part in the team’s win like that is a great feeling.”
With the game deadlocked at 3-3 halfway through the second period, Crowther took the game over during the course of a 10-minute span, as he scored three goals to help the Thunder move out to a 6-3 lead heading into the third.
“The way that Aidan played during that stretch was huge for us,” Thunder Head Coach Cam Aplin said. “He was moving his feet and getting to the puck before anyone else, and when a player does that, good things will happen.
“Aidan is one of our leaders on the team this year, and we need him to do things like that,” he added.
Helping Crowther out during his hat-trick performance were left-winger Nik Baroldi of Regina and right-winger Mark Kunitz of Airdrie, who were joined as a forward line for the first time in the Oct. 4 encounter with the Lightning.
“I’m hoping that we can stick together as a line after this one,” said Crowther. “Instead of just standing around out there, we just kept our feet moving out there and we used our speed to get around their defence.”
The win over the Lightning not only marked the first time that the Thunder picked up a triumph on home ice this season, it was also its second straight victory after starting off the 2013/14 Heritage Junior Hockey League (HJHL) season with three consecutive losses.
“There is nothing like getting wins to help out a team’s confidence, and to get two in a row is huge for us after our slow start,” Aplin said.
“We played our best game of the season in our win on the road against Ponoka (on Sept. 28), and we outworked Stettler in the second period and finished on our chances to get the win at home.”
The Thunder will look to continue its winning ways at the Ron Ebbesen Arena in Airdrie on Oct. 11, as it will go up against the defending HJHL champion Okotoks Bisons at 8 p.m.
“We are looking forward to having a chance to prove that we can beat them,” Crowther said. “They are a good team with some fast guys that really know how to move the puck, so it should be a good game.”
On Oct. 13, the Thunder will head out on the road for a 3:30 p.m. rematch against the Lightning at the Stettler Recreation Centre.