It was roller-coaster weekend for the Airdrie Techmation Thunder Sept. 29 and 30 as the team closed out the month sitting 3-1-0.
The team suffered its first loss of the season, Sept. 29, dropping a 5-3 decision to the Cochrane Generals, but saw a key return the following evening when its captain, and last season’s leading scorer, Clay Murray played in his first game of the season.
“It always helps to have a player as talented as (Murray) in your lineup because he creates offensive chances and is one more option that you have,” said Thunder head coach Derek Stamp.
In its Sept. 29 game, the Thunder carried its 2-0-0 record into Ron Ebbesen Arena against the two-time defending Heritage Junior Hockey League (HJHL) Southern Division Champion Cochrane.
The early season matchup between two perennial contenders had a little less shine than expected as the Generals came in with a winless 0-2-0 record.
“We knew Cochrane was better than 0-2. They’re a good hockey team and they were going to push us,” Stamp said. “Obviously, we want to win every game…it just wasn’t in the cards today.”
A pair of powerplay goals early in the first and second periods from Andrew Neis and Jacob MacDonald gave the Thunder the advantage, but the Generals answered back.
A third Thunder goal off the stick of Nicholas Profeta wasn’t enough, as the Generals scored another three goals – one of which was an empty net goal – en route to the 5-3 win.
Although he and his team were disappointed with the loss, Stamp said the setback was good learning experience.
“We can definite learn from this type of loss,” Stamp said. “Our details were sloppy, we lacked structure and everything we did well in the first two games, we lacked in this one.
“If you’re going to lose, that’s the type of game you want to lose, so you can learn from it.”
In his first game against his old squad since joining the Thunder, netminder Ryan Simpson put forth a strong effort. The newly minted Thunder turned away 52 of the 56 shots faced.
“I wanted to treat it just like any normal game, I wanted to get the win. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen,” Simpson said. “If I get the call against them next time, I’ll be ready and excited.”
A returning Clay Murray made an immediate impact Sept. 30 against the Strathmore Wheatland Kings, scoring a goal and adding three helpers in a 7-4 victory.
Brendan Davidson had a strong outing against the Kings, tacking on a pair of goals and assists.
With the win the Thunder improved to 3-1-0 and took sole possession of first in the HJHL Northern Division.
The Thunder returns to action Oct. 6 when it welcomes the High River Flyers to Ron Ebbesen Arena. Game time is scheduled for 8 p.m.