Friday's home game for the Drayton Valley Thunder was going to be emotional from the start. The night was set to kick off a memorial honoring for a long-time fan and founding father, Roger Coles. The pre-game ceremonies saw Roger's wife Michelle accept a framed jersey from the Thunder organization to keep in her home. Next the Thunder showed their tribute with a banner hung from the media platform, a spot where Roger sat during his announcing days. After the ceremony, the puck was able to be dropped.
The first period was a great showing by the boys on home ice in front of 617 fans. The boys got on the board first as newly acquired Jamie Waddington tipped in a point shot from Chris Kravchuk just 7 minutes into the game. Then, just 37 seconds later the Thunder struck again with a goal by Mathieu Lapointe, his first in the AJHL. The boys got a nice ovation as they left the ice for the second.
The second period slightly favored the Canmore Eagles as they put pressure on the Thunder, scoring early and late in the period, Austen Hebert just 1 minute and 20 seconds into the frame and Simon Philip with under 2 minutes remaining. The Thunder however got a clutch goal from Brandon Long in the period to see the boys with the one goal lead 3-2 heading to the third.
The third was a clinching period for the boys in the green and white as they tried to lock up a win on Roger Coles Night. The boys pressed and pressed onwards in the period and got a two goal lead by speedy winger Trevor Poirier who blew past the Eagles defence and put home a nice backhand breakaway. Moments later Nathan Smith scored on the power play to continue his hot streak. The boys closed out the game with a 5-2 win, backstopped by a 32 save performance by Mitch Martell.
On Saturday, the boys headed on the bus to Lloydminster to battle a division rival in the Bobcats. The Bobcats came in to the game with a 9-7 record and looking to win 4 straight games.
The first period saw the Thunder get outshot 18-5 but only be down 1-0 because of the stellar play of goalie Marc Olivier Daigle. The Thunder also had their opportunities, hitting 2 crossbars early on in the period.
The second period was more in favour of the Thunder as they jumped all over the Bobcats mistakes. The boys created turnovers and played well defensively, as the bus legs were finally worked out. The boys got on the board midway through the game with a power play goal by Nathan Smith, who fired a shot top shelf from the right wing. Moments later Brandon Long picked off a pass at the blue line and had a clear cut breakaway, finishing with a backhand upstairs. The Thunder held the lead going into the third for the second consecutive game.
The third period was a push by both teams, the Bobcats trying to tie, the Thunder trying to hold. However the back and forth affair was won with 12 minutes left in the frame as Braden Crone scored his 4th of the season to tie it at 2. The Thunder staved off a small flurry in the dying seconds of the period to take it to overtime.
In the extra period, 3 on 3, the boys held their own and moved the puck well. With the extra open ice, the boys were able to create chances on netminder Sean Kuehn. Tanner Clarkson had a breakaway in the overtime but the puck bounced on him, causing the big forward to lose control. A few minutes later, the Bobcats capitalized on a Thunder turnover and Bobcats forward Patrick Geary made no mistake an buried the game winner. It was an unfortunate loss for the boys after a hard working effort.
The Thunder now hit the road tomorrow against the Olds Grizzles before heading home for a 2 game home stand versus division rivals Sherwood Park Crusaders and Bonnyville Pontiacs. Both game times are 7:30pm at the Omniplex this weekend (25th, 26th).