When you go through the regular season with 35 wins and just three losses, you should know that people will take notice.
Even though they're down two games to one to the Mountainview Colts in the North Division final, the Airdrie Thunder's outstanding Heritage Junior Hockey League season has people taking notice. The U.S. ranking system, MyHockeyRankings.com has ranked the Thunder as the number one Junior "B" hockey club in Canada for the past several weeks.
Head Coach Derek Stamp says its a nice feeling for his players after putting so much work in this year.
"That was awesome to see. It kind of flew under the radar. We just kind of found out about it, kinda by accident. You're always a little bit cautious because there's a lot of different ranking systems and you're always trying to evaluate all the different organizations that rank the teams but yeah, we saw that. We knew we were the top-ranked team in Alberta but to see it as a Canadian thing was kind of exciting and it was kind of a nice touch for this group of guys who put together a special regular season."
As far as Stamp is concerned, the number one ranking doesn't put any more pressure on his team than what was already there.
"We've kind of been dealing with expectations right out of the gate from the first weekend. We didn't know coming into this season that we'd be able to play at this level. We knew we'd put together what we felt was a really strong team and we were going to be able to have success, but that first weekend, we went 2 and 0 and our second game was a pretty decisive victory over Coaldale who came out of the South last year. I think when that weekend ended I think a lot of people started talking about how good this team could be. It's been a long time since we've sort of had those expectations or that sort of outside noise lingering about what this team should accomplish by the end of the year.
Inside the room, I don't know if we've had to deal with pressure. The guys have talked about what this team is capable of internally and I think we're just focused on that. We know if we play the way we can and we do what we came to do, at the end of the year we should be in a good position."
Among the other three teams remaining in the HJHL playoffs, the Coaldale Copperheads are ranked 18th overall by MyHockeyRankings. Their South opponents, the Cochrane Generals, who Coaldale leads two games to none, are ranked 26th.
The Mountainview Colts who took a two games to one lead on the Thunder last night are ranked 59th. The way they've played in the final is likely to make their star rise.
Comments? Questions? Story ideas? Email us at [email protected]