Airdrie's junior B hockey team is approaching their holiday break in fine form, and in the midst of a spirited winning streak.
The Airdrie Techmation Thunder have rocketed to the top of the Heritage Junior Hockey League's (HJHL) north division in recent weeks, thanks to a six-game unbeaten run that gives the squad a 14-7 record.
Perhaps most impressively, five of those wins have been on the road, noted Thunder captain Dace Carlson.
“It’s been a battle, honestly,” he said. “We’ve been missing a lot of guys, but coming together with the group we’ve got and just out-working and out-performing [our opponents]."
The Thunder haven't tasted defeat since Nov. 18, when they were shut out 6-0 by the Red Deer Vipers. In the weeks since, Airdrie has rebounded with a steady string of wins against the Strathmore Wheatland Kings (2-1), Rocky Rams (3-1 and 6-2), Coaldale Copperheads (6-5), Medicine Hat Cubs (5-4), and Red Deer (4-3).
“It was a big emotional night after Ryan’s ceremony a couple of weeks ago,” Carlson said, referring to the team's memorial tribute to Ryan Couling, an Airdrie hockey player who passed away in November after a 19-month battle with cancer.
“We got together and said, ‘Hey, these are our Stanley Cup playoffs. These two games are everything right now.’ That mindset has kind of kept us rolling.”
Second-year forward Joey Haden, 19, has led the offence for the Thunder, registering 15 goals and 12 assists in 21 games so far this season.
Airdrie will look to keep their streak going at home this Friday night (Dec. 9) when host face the Cochrane Generals, who are currently in second place of the HJHL's south division with a 16-6-1 record. Opening puck-drop is set for 8 p.m. at the Ron Ebbesen Arena.
This will mark the first time the Thunder have played the Generals in the regular season. Cochrane beat Airdrie twice in preseason, including a bruising 10-2 defeat and a closer 5-4 defeat.
“It’s going to be a test,” Carlson admitted. “It’s going to be a tough one. They’re a strong team, second place in the league currently. If we can take them and keep the win streak going to seven, that would be huge.”
After the Cochrane game, the Thunder will make the short trek north to play the Mountainview Colts in Didsbury on Dec. 11. They'll round out their pre-Christmas-break schedule with games against the Three Hills Thrashers on the road on Dec. 14, the Rams on Dec. 16 at home, and the Wranglers the following day at home. Both of those games get underway at 8 p.m. at the Ron Ebbesen Arena.
“We have to keep out-working the other teams,” Carlson said. “That what it comes down to. Our wins haven’t been pretty, it’s just been hard work.”