Thunder foursome named to HJHL All-Star Game
Thursday, Jan 04, 2018 06:00 am
On Dec. 12, 2017, the Heritage Junior Hockey League (HJHL) announced its rosters for its 2017-18 All-Star Game, and the Airdrie Techmation Thunder will be well represented with four players named to the North Division squad.
Among the Thunder players named were captain Clay Murray, forwards Rylan Plante-Crough and Dante Raposo, and defenceman Ben Orde, providing the team with a good variety of what has made the Thunder so successful this season.
“It’s great for any league to be able to host an event where they can bring together the top players in its league and celebrate those successes and what those players bring to the league,” said Thunder head coach Derek Stamp. “We’re proud of all four of those guys that got invites. It goes to show you how talented and deep, as a whole, our team is.”
With four players, the Thunder tie with the Blackfalds Wranglers and High River Flyers for the team with the second-most players invited to the All-Star game.
Murray, who was the HJHL scoring leader in his first full season with the Thunder in 2015-16, is currently second in league scoring with 49 points (25g, 24a) in 22 games.
Now in his final year with the team, the captain finally gets to have his skills recognized by the league alongside his longtime linemate Plante-Crough, whose 45 points (20g, 25a) has him in the top 10 in league scoring as well.
“They do such a good job of playing off of one another and have played together for the better part of this year,” Stamp said. “They are such a nice fit together, they find each other on the ice, read each other so well and it’s nice to see that they’re both rewarded.”
Fellow point-producing forward Raposo got the invite after returning to the Thunder from Ontario earlier this season. The Carstairs, Alta., product has 36 points (13g, 23a) in 18 games, putting him third on the team in scoring, and his point per game total of 1.9 is second only to Murray’s 2.0.
“Ever since stepping into our lineup, he’s had an impact every single game,” Stamp said. “He skates really well, handles and shoots the puck, his awareness on the ice, he brings all of those skill sets and definitely gives us a threat in our lineup.”
Orde is the lone Thunder defenceman heading to the All-Star game, and after a down season in his sophomore year where he collected five points in 19 games, the 19-year-old has revived his offensive touch, potting 15 points in 23 games.
Although the defensive standout has been a major contributor from the point offensively, Stamp said there is much more to Orde’s game then being a threat to score.
“(Orde) is a fantastic defenceman. I don’t know if he always gets the credit that he deserves for being as good as he is defensively,” Stamp said. “Often times, people see what he does moving the puck and in the offensive zone, but he is a solid defenceman that plays in a lot of key situations.
“It’s nice to see him playing at a level we thought he could play at.”
The All-Star Game happens at the Murray Arena in Okotoks, Alta., Jan. 7 at 1:15 p.m. Festivities will include a fastest skater competition as well as the game between the North Division and South Division teams.