Airdrie Thunder snaps losing streak to start month

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After closing out January with a three-game losing streak, the Airdrie Techmation Thunder has taken a step forward to playoff preparation with a convincing win Feb. 2.

The Thunder may have punched its ticket to the Heritage Junior Hockey League (HJHL) post-season after losing its chance at first in the Northern Division, according to head coach Derek Stamp. He said the squad is hopeful its 11-1 victory over the Three Hills Thrashers is a step in the right direction.

“(The win came) at the end of a very productive week – we had two good practices and felt the players were a little more connected and focused on details as we went into the game,” Stamp said. “They had some fun, we executed and we definitely got a result that we really needed.”

Despite coming in on the heels of a penalty-filled battle with the Red Deer Vipers Jan. 26, the Thunder still struggled with discipline in the early stages of its matchup with the Thrashers. However, that didn’t stop the team from jumping out to a 2-0 lead through the opening period, with goals from Clay Murray and Dante Raposo.

The Thunder’s onslaught continued into the middle frame, as the team peppered 32 shots on the Thrashers’ net and hammered home five goals off the sticks of Murray (2), Brett Campbell, Rylan Plante-Crough and Jacob MacDonald – earning it a 7-1 lead into the final frame.

Stamp said the team made a major change to its lineups for the game, splitting up its top line of Murray, Plante-Crough and Matt Thomson. Campbell was moved to top unit, while Plante-Crough played on a line with MacDonald and Andrew McLennan, bringing positive results for all six forwards.

“It was nice to be able to distribute our scoring and be able to create those types of situations where we had balanced lines and attacks,” Stamp said. “All of (the win’s) contributions came from two lines.”

The Thunder’s third line got into the action in the final frame, with Jared Bainbridge potting a pair of goals and MacDonald and Plante-Crough each adding another goal to their totals.

The team also played a critical game with the Blackfalds Wranglers Feb. 6, with the chance at securing second place and a first round bye in the Northern Division on the line. Unfortunately, the team lost 7-4, and will have to wait another game to lock up second.

The Thunder will get that chance as it wraps up the 2017-18 HJHL regular season with a pair of games against the Mountainview Colts and Ponoka Stampeders, welcoming the Colts to Ron Ebbesen Arena for an 8 p.m. matchup Feb. 9. Airdrie will then finish its regular season in Ponoka the next day.

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