Thunder forward helping team’s playoff push
By: Lucas Punkari
| Posted: Thursday, Jan 16, 2014 12:43 pm
Nineteen-year-old Langdon native James Price’s main goal for the remainder of the Heritage Junior Hockey League season is simple.
He wants to do whatever he can to help the Airdrie Thunder make the HJHL playoffs.
“I just want to do anything that will allow us to make it into the post-season,” the right winger said. “I think our entire team is playing really well all-around at the moment, and I want to help the guys out on both offence and defence in order to make the playoffs.”
Heading into its next HJHL contest, which will take place on Jan. 17 when the Mountainview Colts will visit the Ron Ebbesen Arena for an 8 p.m. start, the Thunder is tied with the Three Hills Thrashers for the fifth and final playoff spot in the northern division.
The Thunder, who has a 10-16-2 record this year, earned a massive shot in the arm on Jan. 10 on its home rink when it picked up a 5-1 win over the Thrashers.
“That was by far our biggest win of the year to date,” said Price, who had two assists during the game.
“We played a really well-rounded game out there, especially when it comes to how we played defensively, and that allowed us to create more scoring chances.”
Price has been in on a number of his team’s scoring chances during the month of January, as he has scored three goals and assisted on four others in the Thunder’s last four games.
“James knows how to get open and he has a nice scoring touch down low,” Thunder Head Coach Kyle Haviland said.
“Whenever he gets those opportunities to score, he has been able to capitalize on them.”
“He’s been on a bit of a hot streak recently, and when guys like him get the chance to find the back of the net, they are going to do just that,” he added.
Price’s hot form has also allowed him to move up in the Thunder’s points race, as he sits in fourth place in team scoring with 21 points in 17 games.
“It’s been a lot of fun playing with these guys,” he said. “The group of players that are here right now are all guys that I played with when I was younger, and it’s been nice to play with them again.”
“I’ve also become a lot better when it comes to my play at the other end of the rink,” Price added.
“Becoming a better player on defence is something that I have been working on all year long, and I think that is starting to happen.”
Prior to joining the Thunder this year, Price played in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) last season, where he suited up for two teams in the British Columbia based league.
After starting the 2012/13 campaign with the Columbia Valley Rockets of Invermere, B.C., where he had 19 points in 26 games, he finished off the regular season with 19 points in 25 games for the Golden Rockets.
“While playing out in British Columbia, I definitely had to learn about how to be more mature out there, along with dealing with the guys that were a lot bigger in size,” Price said. “I was able to adjust to that quickly, and the league here (the HJHL) is actually pretty similar to the KIJHL.”
“However, I did have to adjust a little bit to making my decisions with the puck once I came to the Thunder, as the rinks that we play on here are a little bit smaller when it comes to the space that you have,” he added.
Though his short-term goals are all about helping the Thunder get into the HJHL playoffs, Price has also begun to think about what will happen as his junior hockey career comes to an end.
“I would love to keep playing somewhere and to earn a scholarship,” he said.
“It will still be a while before I have to make a decision on that, but I do wonder from time to time where I will be playing in a few years.”