Thunder forward wants to help improve team
By: Lucas Punkari
| Posted: Thursday, Dec 26, 2013 06:00 am
On the surface Airdrie native Curtis Bunney looks to be having a great season with the Airdrie Thunder, as he has shown improvement in the scoring department in his second season with the club.
However, the 20-year-old left winger feels he can be doing a lot better in regards to helping his team move up in the Heritage Junior Hockey League’s (HJHL) Northern Division standings.
“I have become a better player than I was a year ago here, but considering the circumstances with how our season is going, I believe that I can be doing a lot more,” he said.
“I feel that I can be more of a team player and help the team out when we get into bad situations, and not be as uptight when things are happening to keep our gameplans in place.”
Helping the Thunder improve on its 7-13-0-2 record has become even more of an importance for Bunney after the team made a coaching change on Dec. 6, when Cam Aplin was fired and replaced by Kyle Haviland, who was the assistant coach with the team last season.
“It’s been a change for everybody, but it’s not a super massive one, as most of the guys on the team already have a relationship with Kyle and love playing for him,” Bunney said. “For the newer guys on our team, I think this change will light a fire under our butts and help us to keep things going.”
“We now have a lot more simpler game plan than before, as we are doing some dump-and-chase plays to get pucks on the net, and we have become a lot stronger defensively as well,” he added.
For Havilland, having Bunney as one of the team leaders is something that he is pleased to see, as the Airdrie resident is one of the Thunder’s assistant captains.
“Curtis is a guy that has great character and has good leadership,” he said.
“Curtis is a guy that does whatever it takes for the team to have success with his speed and strength, and he can block a shot or make a big hit when you ask him to.”
Heading into a home game against the Red Deer Vipers on Dec. 20, Bunney had four goals and 11 assists in 22 games, which has him in fourth place in team scoring.
“From an individual perspective, things have been going really well,” he said.
“I have mainly played as a left winger, but I have also moved around in different forward spots and played a little bit of defence when the team wants me to.”
“I enjoy playing in whatever role the team needs me to, and having a lot of chemistry with the guys on the rosters helps out with that.”
While Bunney’s main goal is to help the Thunder move up in the standings, he is also thinking about his long-term future in hockey, as the 2014-15 season will be his final season of junior eligibility.
“I’m not sure where I am going to play next, but I would love to keep playing hockey,” he said.
“I’m hoping that I can be on a senior men’s team one day, but I just want to play somewhere where there is good and fast paced hockey.”
Bunney and the rest of his teammates will be back in action on Jan. 3, when they will host the Ponoka Stampeders in an 8 p.m. contest at the Ron Ebbesen Arena.