Thunder start new year on winning note
By: Lucas Punkari
| Posted: Thursday, Jan 09, 2014 12:28 pm
The Airdrie Thunder returned from its holiday break in the best way possible at the Ron Ebbesen Arena on Jan. 3. The team skated to a 4-1 win over the Ponoka Stampeders in Heritage Junior Hockey League action.
“It felt pretty good to get back out here after a couple of weeks away and to get a win under our belts,” said forward James Price, who had three goals and an assist during the game. “We had our first practice on Thursday (Jan. 2) to get back up to speed a little bit, and I think that really got us going again.”
After a slow start to the game, the Thunder scored two goals late in the first period to take the lead over the Stampeders, as Price and Dane Gallant both found the back of the net.
Although Jacob Bottomley would cut down the Stampeders deficit to a single goal early in the second period, Price would put the game away for good with a pair of lamplighters in the third period, including one on the power play.
“Early on, it was obvious that we had been off the ice for a little bit, as our passing and our timing was off,” Thunder Head Coach Kyle Havilland said.
“However, we gutted it out and we got the two points.”
“When things weren’t going well, we stay focused out there, and we didn’t have penalty after penalty when the guys were getting frustrated,” he added.
The win over the Stampeders improved the Thunder’s record to 9-14-2 on the season, and puts the team in a tie for fifth place in the HJHL’s Northern Division with the Three Hills Thrashers.
“When we stick to our systems and bare down on your scoring chances like we have been lately, good things are going to happen,” Price said.
“Our defensive zone play has been getting better as well lately, but it’s still all over the place at times, which is what happened to us early on against Ponoka,” Thunder captain Aidan Crowther said. “It got better as the game went along, but I think we can still be a little bit tighter in our own end.”
Next up for the Thunder will be a game against the Three Hill Thrashers at the Ron Ebbesen Arena on Jan. 10 at 8 p.m., with the winner taking over possession of fifth place in the Northern Division.
“Our main goal at practice this week is to get everyone back into game shape, and to get our timing and passing down as well,” Havilland said. “We also want to get back to working more on our systems as well, as we want to have that down before the playoffs begin.”
After travelling to Didsbury to take on the Mountainview Colts on Jan. 11, the Thunder will host a rare matinee game on Jan. 12 against the Medicine Hat Cubs.
The opening face-off for that game will take place at 3:45 p.m.