Sunday, December 22, 2013

Thunder and Chinooks - Atoms burn down the Pincher barn

Atom Chinooks face off against CNP Thunder
C. Davis photos and video
Chris Davis, Sports

Pincher Creek's Atom Chinooks hosted the Crowsnest Pass Thunder on Sunday afternoon December 22 for the last minor hockey game of the year at the MCC arena. The Thunder bench had 12 players facing off against 17 Chinooks. Both teams have been having an uneven season when it comes to the scoreboard. From the first whistle of this game it was also obvious that both teams came to play.  The score was tied multiple times, and the Chinooks closed a big gap to be one point away from tying it again in the last 6 minutes of play.  The Thunder won 12-8, but not without working hard for it throughout the game.

For the hometown fans it was made apparent that this was a different Atom Chinooks team than the one that last played on home ice a scant two weekends ago. In the intervening time they've really pulled their plays together, and their passing was consistent and well thought out. Lots of great plays that ended up being near misses. Some great plays that ended up with another goal on the board. Another very noticeable improvement was the overall speed and skating ability of the team.

Bruns vs Mosby
The Thunder demonstrated a bit of an edge in several ways. Their offensive plays were a little more consistently on target. They skate well, and their passing play continues to improve. They managed to keep the puck in the Chinooks' end more often, keeping the pressure on the Chinooks' defense.

Snider vs Dyck
The first period was the most even of the three, and the best period for the Chinooks. Thunder #10 Nathan Bohmer scored the first goal of the game at the 14:24 mark of the first period, assisted by #6 Walker Jones. That was answered at the 11:23 mark by Chinooks #8 Caleb Evans, who was in perfect position to knock in the rebound from an attempt by #17 Rylan Bruns, who got an assist on the play.

Thunder #16 Chris Collings scored at the 10:40 mark, assisted by #14 Cole Wemp, and the Thunder were ahead again, 2-1.

Double penalties for the Thunder shortly after that cost them, leading as they did almost immediately to a powerplay unassisted goal for the Chinooks from Rylan Bruns. Tied again, 2-2. The pace was unrelenting. At 3:38 remaining in the period Chris Collings scored his second goal of the day for the Thunder, this time unassisted. 3-2 Thunder.

 A few seconds later Riley Potts tied it up again with an unassisted goal for the Chinooks. 3-3.

Then, with only 59.8 seconds left in the period, Rylan Bruns uncorked his mighty slapshot from between the blueline and the redline, straight in, unassisted, and the Chinooks were ahead 4-3 at the buzzer.

Unfortunately for the Chinooks, that was to be the first and only time they were ahead on the scoreboard this time out. They scored three times in the second period, compared to 6 goals for the Thunder. Two of those Thunder goals came from Cole Wemp, the first a powerplay goal assisted by Walker Jones (his second assist of the day) that tied it up again, 4-4. All of the following Thunder goals in this game were unassisted. Nathan Bohmer scored three times in the second, and Chris Collings scored another as well.

Thunder #14 Cole Wemp takes a shot

Scoring for the Chinooks in the second were #2 Alex Comeau (unassisted, after many solid attempts) and Rylan Bruns, assisted by #5 Logan Deley. At the end of the third the Thunder were ahead 9-7.

For most of the third period the Chinooks were back to playing the way we saw them play in the first period. Rylan Bruns scored unassisted at the 16:26 mark, bringing hope back to the Chinooks and diminishing the Thunder lead to two points.

 Lots of zip, hustle, and scuffle form both sides. 

With 5:37 remaining in the game Alex Comeau scored his second goal of the day, assisted by #10 Nico Charette and Caleb Evans, narrowing the Thunder lead to one point.

It was still anyone's game. Then Nathan Bohmer scored again for the Thunder, making it 10-8. Still the all-out struggle continued.

When Thunder #20 Cooper Snider scored unassisted with only 2:01 remaining you could almost hear the air go out of the game, as the odds became steeper against the Chinooks with little time to make up the difference. 

Cole Wemp scored for the Thunder with 1:34 remaining, and that was all she wrote.

Final score Thunder 12, Chinooks 8.

Thunder #10 Nathan Bohmer scored 5 goals. Thunder #14 Cole Wemp earned a hat trick and got an assist. Thunder #16 Chris Collings earned a hat trick. Chinooks #17 Rylan Bruns scored 4 goals and got an assist. Chinooks goalie Cory Dyck struggled at times but some moments of genius under incredible pressure too. Thunder goalie JP Mosby was solid throughout. The team efforts by almost every player on both sides was a pleasure to witness.  Everyone's stepping up now.

Aside from all that, this was really a perfect way to end the minor hockey year at the MCC arena. Two equally matched teams gave us their all for three periods of highly entertaining, fast paced, clean, intelligent hockey. I hope to be there for the rematch, because it's only going to get better next year.

There's plenty of season left.  

Merry Christmas.

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