Thunder Strong Heading into Playoffs

Feb. 19, 2018



The Airdrie Techmation Thunder can book their playoff vacation.

Not a long one, but a first-round bye will provide a well-deserved rest for the Thunder.

Airdrie locked up second place in the Heritage Junior Hockey League's Northern Division with a pair of weekend wins to cap the regular season.

First, they posted a 5-3 comeback win over the visiting Mountainview Colts on Friday before dispatching the Ponoka Stampeders 8-3 on Saturday.

Thunder captain Clay Murray and Dante Raposo each potted a pair of goals while Jacob MacDonald rounded out the scoring in the win over the Colts.

Thunder head coach Derek Stamp will certainly take the first-round bye when the post-season kicks off next week, but said he was more concerned with how his club was playing.

“It's important but our focus wasn't so much on positioning as much as we wanted to make sure we're playing the right style of hockey as we go into the playoffs,” Stamp said.

“This game was a sign that our attention to detail is coming back.”

The weekend wins allowed the Thunder to snap out of a recent tailspin that saw the team drop four of its previous five games as they wrapped up the season with a 23-9-4 record.

Things didn't look that promising in the early going on Friday night.

Murray put the hosts on the board just 1:29 after the opening faceoff at the Ron Ebbesen Arena but the Colts responded with a trio of goals to take a 3-1 lead.

Murray sniped his 39th of the season near the midway point before Raposo brought the hosts even with 35 seconds left in the middle frame.

Raposo was back for more just 1:52 into the third period, notching the eventual game-winner before McDonald provided the insurance marker with 10:46 remaining in regulation.

Murray liked the resiliency shown by his squad, battling back from a two-goal deficit with four unanswered goals.

“We were down but we kept going and we were doing the easy plays,” Murray said. “The bounces started to go our way.”

Murray scored once to hit the 40-goal mark and added four helpers in Saturday's finale in Ponoka against the Stampeders.

“I'm not really worried about it as long as we get the two points and head into the playoffs with a good push,”

Murray and Plante-Crough (two goals, two assists) combined for nine points in the win over the Stampeders.

Raposo potted another pair while Matt Thomson, Jackson Gibson and Jared Bainbridge chipped in with singles.

Bainbridge became the sixth Thunder player to hit double-digits in goals this season.

The team had a half-dozen last season as well but only a pair had 20 or more snipes. Five players hit the 20-goal mark this season.

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