October couldn’t come to an end soon enough for the Airdrie Techmation Thunder, as the team is currently ridding its worst streak of the season, dropping its last three decisions.
The Thunder came into the 2017-18 Heritage Junior Hockey League (HJHL) season like a barn on fire, posting a league-leading 8-1-1 record through its first 10 games. However, a tough span of five games in eight days took its toll on the squad.
“This type of adversity is exactly what this hockey team and group of veterans that make up our core need,” said head coach Derek Stamp.
Stamp added the team could perform well in the regular season and earn a spot in the post-season, but in playoff hockey, the intensity ramps up and if the team doesn’t know how to deal with adversity, it will struggle once again in the playoffs.
Although the Thunder has struggled in the past two weeks, the team still leads the HJHL with an 8-3-2 record and 18 points. But that lead is diminishing fast as the Blackfalds Wranglers and Okotoks Bisons (both with 16 points) have closed the gap on the hometown heroes.
Stamp said his team needs to change its habits if it hopes to succeed, alluding to prior seasons where the Thunder have proven to be a force but have struggled in the post-season.
“If we change some habits and adjust and handle adversity in a different way, then we can definitely come back from this streak,” Stamp said. “This is a very talented hockey team, but some of our habits off the ice need to be improved if we want to have success.
“It comes down to details, preparation before hockey games and the hard work and what we need to do as hockey players when we show up to the rink.”
With the top two scorers in the HJHL (Clay Murray and Rylan Plante-Crough), the Thunder bolsters potential for a dominant offence that would cause fits for most teams in the league, but Stamp said he wants to see more out of his secondary scoring to help diversify the team’s attack.
One standout secondary-scoring option is Dante Raposo, who returned to the Thunder in October after playing half a season in Ontario.
In just seven games, the forward has 18 points (6g, 12a) and is third on the team in scoring.
The Thunder returns to action Nov. 3 when it hosts the Ponoka Stampeders at Ron Ebbesen Arena. Game time is scheduled for 8 p.m.
Although Ponoka comes in with just one win in its first 10 games, Stamp said his team can’t come in expecting to dominate the visitors.
“We need to worry about how we play hockey, fall back on what our identity is and to commit to the structure we need to play,” Stamp said. “No games right now should our guys look at as being easy…. They need to understand that if we don’t show up, any team can beat us.
“On the flipside, if we do show up, there is no reason we can’t have a boatload of success.”