Thunder under new local ownership
By: Lucas Punkari
| Posted: Thursday, Jul 17, 2014 10:28 am
When the 2014/15 Heritage Junior Hockey League (HJHL) season gets underway in September, the Airdrie Thunder will have a whole new look both on and off the ice.
That change comes through a new local ownership that consists of Airdrie businessmen Larry Smith, Gordon Ziegler, Jim Sawby, and Derek Polsfut, who purchased the team from Frank McEvoy in May.
“Being involved in a local hockey team is something that’s been on the back-burner for me and the other guys for awhile now,” Smith said.
“We’ve been involved in Airdrie Minor Hockey for many years, and when we heard the team was up for sale, we decided to get involved.”
All four owners come from different background, with Smith owning the Overtime Lounge restaurant at the Ron Ebbesen Arena, while Ziegler runs International Staffing Consulting Services and is a human resources representative for Integral Energy Services.
Sawby is the owner of Skyway Grain Systems, while Polsfut owns Techmation Electric Controls, which will serve as the team’s main sponsor during the season.
“Frank has left a great core foundation here, but we have a slightly different vision of how we want things to go here with the Thunder,” Ziegler said. “We’re really focused on bringing a sense of community around the team that brings everyone together.”
“We want people here of all ages to come out to our games to see an exciting brand of hockey,” he added.
“Plus, we want Airdrie hockey players to know that if Junior A or their other hockey ventures don’t work out like they hope, that there’s a good team here in their own community.”
The coaching staff will also have a different look to it this season, as former Airdrie Xtreme Head Coach Josh Zimmer will be taking over behind the bench from Kyle Haviland, who took charge of the Thunder midway through the 2012/13 season after Cam Aplin was relieved of his duties.
“We’re looking forward to having Josh as a part of the team, as he did a great job with the Xtreme last season,” Ziegler said. “We are in the process of finalizing the rest of the coaching staff, but we won’t make any announcement about that until our training camp at the end of August.”
Another new change to the Thunder will be new uniforms the team will wear for the 2014/15 season, but Ziegler is keeping his lips sealed as to what they will look like.
“We want to keep some surprises for our home opener in September,” Ziegler said.
“All we’re going to say right now is that it’s going to be different and very exciting.”
The new look Thunder’s fall training camp will take place at the Ron Ebbesen Arena from Aug. 29 to Sept. 1, with the team also hosting a 3-on-3 tournament at the Ron Ebbesen Arena on Aug. 16 and 17.
McEvoy could not be reached for comment regarding the sale as of press time.