Thunder takes important rematch versus Bisons

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After struggling with its consistency for the better part of two months, the Airdrie Techmation Thunder completed its first perfect weekend Dec. 1 to 3.

Thunder went a perfect 2-0, knocking off the top team in the Heritage Junior Hockey League (HJHL) Southern Division, Okotoks Bisons and the Medicine Hat Cubs to improve its record to 14-6-2.

“(A weekend like this) was huge, coming off of a few weekends where we were 0.500, win one and lose one, struggling on the road and not able to put two 60-minute efforts together like we did,” head coach Derek Stamp said.

“It’s really nice to see and something we hope is a step in the right direction.”

Stamp said the successful weekend was something he saw coming, as the team remained committed to working through its issues and as a more complete unit than it had in the earlier stages of the season.

The Thunder was tested early in the weekend taking on the Bisons at Ron Ebbesen Arena Dec. 1. In a battle between the top team in the Northern Division and the Southern Division-leader, the game proved to be more of a chess match than an all-out war. Both teams opened up the contest feeling each other out and not wanting to give up too much.

The Thunder opened the scoring with less than five minutes left in the opening frame when Rylan Plante-Crough potted his 15th goal of the season.

In the dying seconds of the period, the Bisons squared the game up with one second left on the clock to tie the game at one a piece heading into the first intermission.

Stamp said a goal like this may have derailed the Thunder earlier on in the season, but his team was motivated to make amends and battle back.

Following a scoreless middle stanza, the Thunder’s skill took over in the third frame with Ben Orde netting a goal and Plante-Crough scoring his second that evening to take the 3-1 victory and widen the Thunder’s lead in the Northern Division.

“You want to be able to match up and have success against the other best teams in the league,” Stamp said. “It was a good game and a tight game, and we stuck to the game plan.

“That was our best 60-minute effort of the season.”

The Thunder followed up its impressive win at home with a game on the road in Medicine Hat Dec. 3.

After starting out down a goal through 20 minutes and tied 2-2 after 40, the Thunder’s offence took over in the final frame with an onslaught of goals from Clay Murray, Brett Campbell, Austin O’Bray and Dante Raposo to earn a 6-2 victory and improve to 2-0 in the month of December.

Although he was happy with his team’s victory, Stamp said he would like to see the team take over games sooner than the third period.

“The team is understanding the type of hockey we need to play and they’re embracing the identity that we feel will make us successful when games matter most and that’s in the playoffs,” Stamp said.

The Thunder continue its December with an important game Dec. 8 against the Blackfalds Wranglers at Ron Ebbesen Arena. Puck drops at 8 p.m.

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