Hockey is a strange game

Just when you think you have the world of sports figured you, it fires a curveball that leaves you swinging at air.
Last weekend’s two-game tussle between the Borderland Thunder and the Fort William Wolves elicited two significantly different reactions from Thunder head coach Dave Allison—but not in the order that one watching the games would have presumed.
On Friday night, Allison’s troops let a 2-0 lead against the Wolves fade away, falling behind 4-3 in the third period. But thanks to Kevin Webb’s goal with 43 seconds to play in regulation time, the Thunder escaped with a tie.
After the game, the coach’s displeasure with his team was tough to ignore. Harsh words clearly were heard through the dressing room door, and Allison exited the room for his post-game media session visibly agitated—before unleashing a barrage of criticism dealing with topics like selfishness and lack of effort on his team’s part.
On Saturday night, the Thunder played with more of a sense of purpose—for the first half of the game, anyway.
Despite falling behind 5-1, the pesky Wolves slowly but surely nibbled away at the lead, exhibiting their own brand of last-minute heroics when Jarryd Brend tied the score with 22 seconds left in regulation.
Then Fort William did the Thunder one better from the previous night when as Wes Thom netted the game-winner in overtime to leave the home team with just two wins in their last seven games.
A betting man would have wagered on another, and even more intense, eruption from “Mount Allison” (the coach, not the New Brunswick university). But after the game, the Thunder bench boss was reserved, and even complimentary, about his team’s effort in the stunning loss.
It was either a great display of grace under pressure, or a foreboding calm before the storm.
Just call me mystified. I personally would have been much more concerned about surrendering a four-goal lead and losing than a two-goal lead and earning a draw.
Allison’s lengthy coaching résumé, from the OHL to the NHL, would indicate he’s got a handle on how to guide a team. Perhaps there is a time for patting backs instead of kicking butts.
But I won’t deny this: hockey’s a hard game to figure out sometimes, and coaching philosophies even more so.
I think I’ll stick to the press box. It’s less confusing up there.
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Congratulations to Devlin’s Keith Caul, who came in second at the 50/50 Futurity quarterhorse competition in Winnipeg last weekend.
Caul’s performance capped off a strong season for Rainy River District quarterhorse competitors, as they have raked in a trough full of medals in various competitions across Canada and theU.S.
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All avid anglers are invited to the west showroom at Pinewood Sports tomorrow (Nov. 21) for a free seminar by professional sport fisherman Chip Leer.
Leer is the co-host of the Minnesota Pro/Am Bass Tour on Fox Sports Net, and is entered in next year’s Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship.
He will focus his presentation on ice fishing, but will take questions from the public about any fishing season or species of local fish.
The first session begins at 2 p.m., while a second one is slated for 6:30 p.m. Admission is free, but there is only a limited number of seats available.
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I said it before and I’ll say it again: come out this Friday and Saturday to rally behind the Muskies senior girls’ basketball team as they challenge either the St. Ignatius Falcons or the Churchill Trojans of Thunder Bay in the best-of-three NWOSSSA final.
Appearances at the all-Ontarios may be old hat for followers of Fort High’s boys’ hockey team, but basketball rarely has had the success of its on-ice sibling.
Coach Darren Johnson and the Muskies have a chance to firmly etch their place in this area’s sports history books if they can survive against the eastern invaders.  And if you don’t believe fan support can make a difference against a more talented opponent, take it from me — it can happen.
I watched a raucous legion of Kenora Broncos athletes literally will their senior boys’ volleyball squad to overcome a supremely-skilled Eagles squad in the NorWOSSA final in Dryden two weeks ago.
The roar of the crowd can provide an adrenaline rush that carries athletes to heights they may have thought unreachable. And as hard as this Muskies team works, they deserve your support.
So let’s pack the “Fish Tank” to the gills this weekend. Your voices could very well help punch the Muskies’ ticket to provincial glory.
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The final tally is in from two Thunder fundraisers in support of local amateur hockey.
A cheque for $2,445 was presented to Fort Frances minor hockey, girls’ hockey, and women’s hockey on behalf of M&M Meat Shops, B-93 FM, Molson Canada, and the Thunder before the Nov. 12 game against the Dryden Ice Dogs.
The proceeds stemmed from the “Thunder on Ice” promotion in September, which saw Thunder coaches Dave Allison, Greg Madill, and Neil Cooper spend three hours in the meat storage freezer at M&M, as well as from the pre-game tailgate party before the Oct. 19 game against the Thunder Bay KC Bulldogs.
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The Fort Frances Women’s Volleyball League is now accepting entries for its tournament Feb. 8 at the Fort Frances High School gym. Entry fee is $150 per team.
Should the anticipated 16 teams register, first-place prize money will be $700, with second place receiving $400 and third place getting back their entry fee.
A social at Warp 9 will follow.
For more information or to register, call Candy at 483-1252 or e-mail her at teeple@jam21.net.
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If you are planning any sporting events, or have some sports-related information or scores, feel free to call me at 274-5373 ext. 237 or by e-mail at jpayeur@fortfrances.com

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