Provincial News

Apr. 03, 2019

Thunder win provincial championship

The Airdrie Techmation Thunder got it Dunn.

Brayden Dunn scored late in regulation time on a brilliant individual effort and then sniped the overtime winner as the Thunder beat the Wainwright Bisons 4-3 to capture the franchise's first Jr. B provincial championship.

The 20-year-old Calgarian broke in on a two-on-one, faked a slapshot and then ripped a wrister into the top corner 31 seconds into the extra frame to give the Heritage Junior Hockey League champions the Alberta crown.

Once we realized the kind of team that we had, and the bond that we shared with each other, we knew we were something special,” Dunn said.

To finally get it done, to win the league and the provincials, it's unreal.

I'm so proud of all these guys and I'm looking forward to the friendships I've made for the future.”

Michael Dubois and Barrett Sheen also scored for Airdrie, which capped off an amazing run that saw the team go 35-3 during the regular season, 11-2 in the playoffs and 5-0 at the provincial tournament.

But the dream season nearly had a nightmare ending.

The Thunder took a 2-1 lead into the third period but the two-time defending champions struck for a pair of powerplay goals in a span of 1:35 to take a 3-2 advantage.

As the clock ticked down, a Bisons three-peat appeared more and more likely.

I think we were all getting a little nervous,” Dunn said. “But there was no panic.

We were still calm and cool.”

Dunn decided to take matters into his own hands and scored one of the most spectacular goals of the season ... to save the season.

He magically split a pair of Bisons defenceman and then made an off-balance deke to the backhand to tie the game with 3:53 to play in regulation.

I came across the blueline with speed,” Dunn said. “I thought 'there's some room here, I'll give it a shot.'

I managed to get through them, went to the backhand and tied the game up.”

He wasn't done, errrr, Dunn, there.

The Bisons applied immediate pressure after the puck dropped in the extra period.

But then the puck popped out to all-star defenceman Jason Wenzel, who dished it to Dunn. The two took off on a two-on-one.

Once Wenz got the puck and got it to me, I looked up and saw I had tons of room to skate.

But if it wasn't for Wenz driving hard to the net and the defenceman not knowing what I was going to do, I don't think I would of had as much room to do what I did.”

Dunn's sudden death winner sparked a massive celebration as Thunder players tossed their sticks, gloves and helmets all over the ice.

Thunder head coach Derek Stamp said Dunn's third-period equalizer was a thing of beauty.

His first goal was incredible,” Stamp said. “Talk about elevating your game.

He was a guy throughout the playoffs who seemed almost a little bit snake-bit. He wasn't getting the points. But in this provincial tournament, he just elevated his game.

He came over the line and faked the slapshot (in OT) and as soon as that goalie flinched, it was just a matter of picking that corner, which we've seen him do all season long.”

Dunn put up 29 goals and 62 points in 23 games during the season, added 11 points in a dozen HJHL playoff tilts and a tournament-high 11 more in five provincial games.

That's 84 points - without taking a single penalty - in 40 games.

He was far from the only one who enjoyed a spectacular season.

And Stamp said it took everyone to bring the city its first Jr. B provincial crown.

I couldn't be more proud of the group,” Stamp said. “From ownership to management to the assistant coaches and trainers and obviously all the players, it's an incredible source of pride.

This group, they were champions right from the get-go.

This just caps it off.”




Thunder to play for provincial championship

The Airdrie Techmation Thunder have won 50 games this season.

They'll need No. 51 to win the first provincial championship in franchise history.

The Thunder have rolled through the Jr. B Alberta Provincial Championships with four straight victories and now stand one away from the ultimate prize.

Following a perfect 3-0 run through the round-robin, the Thunder pounded the hometown Wetaskiwin Icemen 8-0 inSaturday night's semifinal to earn a spot in Sunday's championship game against the Wainwright Bisons (Sunday, 2 p.m.).

It won't be a cakewalk.

The Bisons are the defending champs.

Wainwright went 29-3 during the regular season, 12-1 in the playoffs and, no surprise, won all four games at the provincial tournament.

The collision course has been set for some time.

“They are the defending champs and they will be a great test for us,” said Thunder head coach Derek Stamp.

“But, like we have been all season, we are confident in our game.

“And if we execute, we like our chances.”

One player who had no problem executing in Saturday's semifinal was Rylan Plante-Crough, who lit the lamp four times.

Defenceman Jason Wenzel continued his dominant play with a goal and an assist.

Zac Giroux, Brett Campbell and Jackson Gibson also found the net in the lopsided semifinal.

“It was a solid 60-minute effort from everyone,” Stamp said. “We managed the puck in all three zones and just wore them down.

“The flood gates opened in the second (period) and we held the momentum.”

Goaltender Jackson Little, who rested the previous two games, made 26 saves for the shutout.

Thunder fans who can't make it to Wetaskiwin for Sunday's final can watch it live on .


Thunder beat Royals gold to finish round-robin 3-0

It meant nothing in the standings.

But the Airdrie Techmation, with a few key players watching from the stands, won the game anyway.

The Thunder beat the winless Calgary Royals Gold 7-4 on Saturday afternoon to finish off the round-robin with a perfect 3-0 record at the Alberta Jr. B Provincial Championships.

Airdrie will now turn it's attention to Saturday night's semifinal against the host Wetaskiwin Icemen (1-2), who qualified for the playoff round by beating the Fort St. John Huskies 8-3.

Thunder head coach Derek Stamp said his team expects to be up against a rowdy, pro-Icemen crowd Saturday night.

"It's nice to wrap up the round-robin 3-0," Stamp said. "Our focus is now on ensuring we do everything needed to be ready to play Wetaskiwin tonight.

"They are the host team and we know the crowd will be on their side, but we have a lot of confidence in our game right now."

The Royals Gold (0-3) actually built a 4-2 lead before the Thunder roared back with five unanswered goals.

Tristan Paquette led the way with a pair of goals and an assist while Jason Wenzel also scored twice.

Brett Campbell had a goal and two assists for Airdrie, which also got goals from Jordan McConnell and Zachary Dubois.

"We played well overall," Stamp said. "Our start was a bit loose and they took advantage of it building the lead.

"Our guys were confident and we controlled the second half."

Rylan Plante-Crough, a 50-goal scorer during the HJHL regular season, and starting goaltender Jackson Little were given the afternoon off.

The Wainwright Bisons (3-0) will face the Edmonton Beverly Warriors (2-1) in Saturday night's other semifinal.

The winners meet in Sunday's championship game (2 p.m.)


Thunder dump Kings, earn semifinal berth at Provincials

The Airdrie Techmation Thunder have punched their ticket to the provincial semifinals.

With a game to spare.

Friday night's 6-2 victory over the Grande Prairie JDA Kings makes Saturday afternoon's tilt against the winless Calgary Royals Gold (12:15 p.m.) meaningless in the standings.

Not only have the Thunder locked up a semifinal spot, they have clinched top spot in Pool A. They'll play the second-place team from Pool B in Saturday night's semi (8 p.m.) in Wetaskiwin.

Tyler Petrie and Brayden Dunn potted a pair each as the Thunder roared out to a 5-0 lead against the Kings (1-1) on Friday.

Zac Giroux and Rylan Plante-Crough also scored while Cooper Page chipped in with a trio of helpers as Airdrie improved to 2-0 at the tournament despite playing shorthanded for large chunks of the game.

“The officials struggled and the game never really got any flow to it,” Thunder head coach Derek Stamp said. “Our guys were solid and our special teams were really good.

“Zak Larson played great in net.”

With the team set to play twice on Saturday, Stamp elected to give starting goaltender Jackson Little the night off.

“Having depth is an advantage in a tournament like this,” Stamp said. “We were confident in playing Larson and it allowed us to rest Little.”

The Thunder, who owned a 47-32 advantage on the shot clock, will turn their attention to the Calgary Royals Gold.

Stamp said he hadn't finalized his roster for the meaningless early game against Calgary, which has been out-scored 13-7 in the Royal's two losses.

“We just want to continue playing the right way,” Stamp said of his squad that opened the tourney with a 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Beverly Warriors.

“We will evaluate our lineup in the morning and figure out what we think is optimal.”

The Warriors beat the Royals Gold 6-3 on Friday.

In Pool B action, the Wainwright Bisons (2-0) beat the host Wetaskiwin Icemen (0-2) 7-4 and the Fort St. John Huskies (1-1) doubled up the Coaldale Copperheads (1-1) 4-2.

The championship game set for Sunday (2 p.m.)



Thunder beat Warriors at Provincials

The Airdrie Techmation Thunder are on the board at the Jr. B Provincial Championships.

The Thunder broke open a tight 1-1 game with a trio of third period goals to beat the Edmonton Beverly Warriors 4-2 in their opening game of the tournament on Thursday.

HJHL scoring champ Jordan McConnell scored a goal and added an assist for Airdrie, which also got goals from Jason Wenzel, Tristan Paquette and Brayden Dunn.

The Thunder will take on the Grande Prairie JDA Kings, who thumped the Calgary Royals Gold 7-4 on opening day, on Friday night (7 p.m. In Wetaskiwin).

Rylan Plante-Crough chipped in with a pair of assists as the Thunder enjoyed a 38-22 advantage on the shot clock against the Warriors.

Thunder head coach Derek Stamp said his club remained calm and in control despite the deadlocked scoreboard through 40 minutes.

“It was tied but we were definitely controlling the play for big chunks of those periods,” Stamp said. “Their goaltender played well.

“We stayed on point and knew we'd be able to capitalize.”

Stamp credited his top line of McConnell, Tyler Petrie and Cooper Page for a solid outing.

Jackson Little kicked out 20 pucks, including a massive stop on a third period penalty shot, to pick up the win.

In Pool B action, the Wainwright Bisons beat the Fort St. John Huskies 6-3 and the Coaldale Copperheads got past the host Wetaskiwin Icemen 7-5.

The top two teams in each pool following round-robin play will advance to Saturday night's semifinals with the championship game set for Sunday (2 p.m.)


Thunder prepare for provincials

The Airdrie Techmation Thunder already have a pair of shiny new additions to their trophy case.

Now they have their sites set on the biggest and shiniest of them all - a provincial crown.

The Thunder, who claimed the North Division and the HJHL championship in recent weeks, open the Jr. B provincials on Thursday in Wetaskiwin.

Airdrie, at the provincial dance for the first time since 2007, will face the Edmonton Beverly Warriors, Grande Prairie JDA Kings and Calgary Royals Gold in the round-robin.

Thunder bench boss Derek Stamp said his coaching staff has done its homework on the opposition, but is focused on making sure his own squad is ready to go.

“We have some information on those teams, but it is definitely limited,” Stamp said. “We will be aware of a few details on them.

“But the focus is for us to play our game and force them to adjust.”

Sounds like a good plan. The Thunder, who had a .921 winning percentage during the regular season, are the top-ranked team in the country after all.

And they are heavily favoured, along with Pool B's Wainwright Bisons (.906), to be playing in Sunday's final (the top two teams in each pool punch their tickets to Saturday night's semifinals).

But anything can happen in a short tournament with very little room for error.

“With this type of format, there are a lot of factors and circumstances that can change the momentum of a game - or the weekend - quickly,” Stamp said.

“Our ability to manage and adapt to adversity is key.

“These are all good teams, but we still feel our depth gives us an advantage.”

With the Thunder gunning for the franchise's first provincial title - they won silver in 2000 - here's a look at three teams standing in their way.

THURSDAY (4:15 p.m.)

Edmonton Beverly Warriors (29-9; .763)

The Warriors topped the West Division and tied for second during the Capital Junior Hockey League regular season.

Edmonton knocked off the defending CJHL-champion and provincial host Wetaskiwin Icemen in five games to win the club's first championship banner since 2010.

Jacob Schnack (22 goals, 61 points) led the charge offensively and finished eighth in league scoring.

Carter Siben (five goals, 21 points) and Justin Haukenfrers (six, 19) were the top producers in the post-season, where the Warriors went 10-2.

FRIDAY (7 p.m.)

Grande Prairie JDA Kings (19-15-2; .556)

The Kings have the worst winning percentage of any of the eight provincial combatents, but considering they were 2-10 in early November, the Grande Prairie club has enjoyed an impressive run.

Grande Prairie finished third in the six-team North West Junior Hockey League before winning a pair of do-or-die elimination games to beat the Sexsmith Vipers and Dawson Creek Junior Canucks. They eventually fell in six games to Pool B's Fort St. John Huskies in the league final.

Blake Gillingham (24 goals and 53 points) was the Kings top scorer (fourth in the league) during the regular season while Wyatt Lawrence tied for the NWJHL lead with 25 goals.

Jacob Begin (six goals, 24 points) and Louka Richard (seven goals, 19 points) were the top guns during the playoff run.

SATURDAY (12:15 p.m.)

Calgary CRAA Gold (24-3-3; .850)

The CRAA Gold went wire-to-wire, scoring the most goals and surrendering the fewest, en route to the Calgary Jr. Hockey League title.

The Gold went 7-1 in the post-season to get back to the provincial tournament for the second straight year.

Jack Hartford led the circuit with 36 goals and 78 points while Spencer Selby was next with 29 markers and 63 points.

Goaltender Scott Young went 13-1-2 with a league-best 2.53 goals-against average.

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