There is an old song called ‘What a difference a day makes performed by both Dinah Washington and later Rod Stewart.”
The lyrics start with:
What a difference a day makes
Twenty-four little hours
Brought the sun and the flowers
Where there used to be rain.
Well the 2000 TPH Thunder coached by Keith Rowe could conceivably rewrite the song and name it ‘What a difference a year makes.”
Last season the 2000 Thunder AAA Tier 1 squad had many of the same players, but the final outcomes were vastly different than this year.
The TPH Thunder is an organization built on continuous improvement and it was not inconceivable or inconsistent that turning around the fortunes of the 2000’s was imperative to the overall Thunder brand.
This year the Thunder organization has proven to again be competitive and Nathan Bowen’s teams as a rule are competitive despite geographics. So far this year the Thunder has surprised its competition in the national rankings.
• 2002 team ranking 48th
• 2001 team ranked 43rd
• 2000 team ranked 27th
• 1999 team ranked 13th
• U16 Nationals team ranked 47th
• U16 Americans team ranked 91st
• U18 team ranked 13th
One of the catalysts for the Thunders improvement in the standings has been the play of Sean McAvoy, Lucas Szewcyk, and Cooper Fenterstock.
While short in stature relative to other youth players, none of their on-ice competitors can ever question the size of their hearts and the units’ dedication to putting out a quality product whenever they are on the ice.
Where the “CoopMcLuc” combination excels is their camaraderie and synchronization on the ice. They work hard, relentlessly chase the puck, are aggressive no matter the size of their opponents and will unselfishly look for the open teammate and get them the puck every time.
One of the obvious problems a year ago was the noticeable selfishness many of the Thunder players displayed with the puck which seemed to indicate that they pursued individual goals over team goals. .
”CoopMcLuc” does not have that schism and it shows up clearly in the individual stats. In 40 games this season Sean McAvoy has 19 goals and 26 assists and is a +19, Lucas Szewcyk has 21 goals and 20 assists and a + 17, while Cooper Fensterstock has 16 goals and 24 assists and is a +19.
“Keith Rowe worked a lot of those kinks out” said one of the Thunder parents.
Other factors have contributed to the team’s success including a mobile defense, and solid goaltending.
An example of the difference in the Thunder 2000 team has been its recent winning streak which should push them up in the MyHockey rankings above 27th in the nation. Just last season the team ranked in the mid fifties at year end.
The team won 7 out of 8 games in two weeks and won the Music City tournament and then traveled to Chicago the following week where they defeated all comers and left the freezing cold with a warm feeling about their prospects.
The TPH Thunder organization is now celebrating 10 years and is seeing several youth players receive offers to play college and juniors. With players from Atlanta, Nashville, Tennessee and Florida they also succeeded in gaining a respected reputation in youth hockey circles.
Similar to top ranked squads like Chicago Mission , Honeybaked and Little Caesars the use of systems, breakout plays and offensive and defensive alignments have started to take root and have helped the team in the standings and abetted its players individually.
It is what elite hockey is all about and it is what the Thunder is providing despite being based in the south.