Thunder continue to dominate in first game of 2018

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Following a dominant December 2017, where the team amassed a 6-0 record and closed the gap with fellow division-contender Red Deer Vipers, the Airdrie Techmation Thunder returned to action Jan. 5 with a huge win over the Ponoka Stampeders.

Coming off of a lengthy Christmas break – having last played Dec. 22, 2017 – the team got off to a sluggish start in the Jan. 5 game, but rallied back to secure an 8-2 victory for its seventh win in a row.

“(A slow start) is expected for any level of hockey players after they get a 10-day break, especially around something like Christmas,” Stamp said.

The team was without two of its most prolific point-getters in the game, as Dante Raposo and Rylan Plante-Crough were both held out of the lineup due to a suspension and prior commitments respectively. That didn’t stop the high-octane offence the Thunder has boasted throughout the majority of the 2017-18 Heritage Junior Hockey League (HJHL) season.

The Thunder had five different goal scorers in its win Jan. 5, which proves to the league how dangerous the team can be when its offence is clicking and ready to contribute no matter who is on the ice.

“It speaks to our depth and our talent,” Stamp said. “We feel we have guys that can step in when some of our top players are out and we saw that.”

Although the Thunder failed to get much momentum in the first period, it didn’t take the team long to get its offence rolling with Clay Murray opening the scoring six minutes in, and tacking on a second goal to give his team a 2-0 lead midway through the opening frame.

The Thunder continued to roll with Matt Thomson scoring his fourth goal since joining the team in early December.

Holding a 3-0 lead coming into the middle stanza, the Thunder’s secondary scoring took over with Andrew McLennan potting a pair and Jared Bainbridge and Jacob McDonald each adding a goal.

“Our emphasis is on having a balanced attack,” Stamp said. “We know what we’re going to get from our top unit night in and night out, but we also know what our secondary scoring is capable of.

“When you get contributions from those guys, it just allows us to roll the way that we were rolling.”

Seconds into the third period, Murray completed the hat trick with a power-play goal for an 8-0 lead. The Stampeders answered back with a pair of goals, but that was as close as it would get in the loss.

Rookie netminder C.J. Wedenig got the start for the Thunder, turning away 35 of the 37 shots he faced for his ninth win of the campaign.

Although the Thunder won, its rival the Vipers won a pair of games that weekend and leapfrogged the Thunder to take first in the division.

The Thunder continues its pursuit of first in the HJHL Northern Division Jan. 12, when it welcomes the Mountainview Colts to Ron Ebbesen Arena at 8 p.m.

Airdrie wraps up its weekend set on the road when it takes on the Stampeders Jan. 14, hoping to add to its league-high seven-game winning streak.

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