Thunder forward rediscovers scoring touch
After a slow start to the 2013/14 Heritage Junior Hockey League (HJHL) season, Airdrie Thunder right-winger Donavon Henrion is starting to find his stride.
The 21-year-old from Shaunavan, Sask. potted a pair of goals on Oct. 18 as he helped his team cruise to an 8-3 victory over the Banff Academy Bears, and now has three goals and three assists in six games this season.
“Hopefully things will continue to click for me now after this game,” Henrion said. “It was just about being in the right place at the right time in getting those two goals, and being in the right position.”
“I am also getting used to my linemates (Logan Smith and Brett Hanson) as I didn’t play with them last year, so it’s taken us a little bit to get used to another,” he added.
Thunder Head Coach Cam Aplin noticed the improvement from Henrion on Oct. 18, as he and his linemates Smith and Hanson were involved in four of the Thunder’s eight goals in its win over Banff.
“They haven’t come through for us like that yet this year, and they really stepped up their game and their work ethics” Aplin said. “I challenged them in practice this week to play more of a role, and they certainly did that.”
“Our line has really been working hard at getting better for the last little bit there, and we finally found a way to get pucks to the net,” Henrion added.
This season marks Henrion’s first full year with the Thunder, as he joined the team part way through last season after he began the year with the Concordia College Thunder in Edmonton.
“I really like it down here in Airdrie, as everyone has been very welcoming of me since I came to town,” Henrion said. “There is a lot of players with good speed and strong skills in the league here, and it reminds a lot of the league (the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference) I was playing in at Concordia.”
Henrion is one of two 21-year-old players (the other being defenceman and Airdrie native Taylor Crossley) on the Thunder this year, which has put the right-winger in a familiar role as a team leader.
“I just try to say what needs to be said at times in the locker room,” Henrion said. “I’ve always been one of the team captains wherever I have gone, and while I’m not one of those guys on the team this year, I always try to talk to the guys and get them going.”
In addition to his leadership role, Aplin said he likes the hard-nosed style of play that Henrion brings to the Thunder.
“He’s not the fastest guy on the ice, but he’s tough on the puck and he goes into the hard spots in front of the net,” Aplin said. “He takes a beating every game, but that is because he is always willing to go into those battles.”
Though his main goals for this year are to try and get the Thunder as far as the team can into the post-season, Henrion is already thinking about his next step, which may see him back playing in his hometown.
“There is a senior men’s hockey team in Shaunavan that I played for before I came here, and I may end up back there again with the Badgers,” he said. “There are a ton of senior men’s teams in Saskatchewan, as it is a pretty big deal out there, which makes for some good games.”