Home debut draws strong reviews

“This is the most people I’ve seen gathered in one place in a while.”
That was the remark I heard from someone as I shuffled past the lineup on my way up the stairs to the “Ice for Kids” Arena for the Borderland Thunder’s home-opener last Friday night, joining close to 1,200 in attendance.
There were other remarks I heard, as well, such as “Mommy, can you buy me some pizza?” and “What’s a Borderland?” But none of them were worthy enough as an opener.
The gentleman who scored the winning quote was pretty close to the money. The biggest gathering for a sports event I’ve seen in this area was at the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship’s final weigh-in back in July.
Maybe he was fishing that day.
Anyway, I couldn’t help but write about the Thunder for a second week in a row. From the looks of things, most of this page is about them so why not follow along.
Plus, I’m always a sucker for the live event experience: the sound of kids running around the rink with their orange pucks bragging how they’re going to land it at centre ice to win the prize, the oh-so obvious use of “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC to introduce the team, and, of course, the hockey.
I have to give credit where credit is due—the franchise put on a stellar show. Aside from a few complaints on Friday’s officiating (that’s as close to that subject as I’ll get), the vibe on the Thunder generally was positive.
Tagg’s Bantam ‘AA’ head coach Dave Egan, a 25-year veteran of minor hockey here, said he was pleased with what he saw—but that this team and league will look a lot different in the new year.
“The league will settle in by January,” said Egan. “You have to remember most of these teams are starting from scratch.”
He has a point, but I think team officials would—from a marketing point of view, at least—want the team to show its best stuff now and not lose fans whom they were trying to put make a good impression on.
Ah, the eternal struggle between player development and the business of hockey. It’s an endless debate. We could go on and on.
But I’m running out of room, so we won’t.
• • •
Continuing on with the shameless use of unattributed quotes, the Sisler Spartans football team provided some entertainment in the form of trash-talking near the end of their 22-8 win over the Muskies here last Friday afternoon.
For a high school team, they sure threw everything at the black-and-gold from a subtle “Take a seat, buddy” to an outpour of “This is our house!”
Maybe they’ve seen one too many National Football League rock videos.
I guess there’s nothing wrong with a little trash-talking at that level as long as it’s used to pick up the spirits of your own team and not used to disrespect your opponents—no matter how much you beat them by.
A tip of the hat to the Muskies for not being overly bothered by those comments—or reacting in a negative way. There was one series where two Spartans tackled Muskie Adam McTavish and triumphantly yelled, “Nowhere! He’s not going anywhere!”
McTavish—bad ankle and all—came back on the next series to elude those defenders and score his team’s only touchdown. “You address [trash-talking] with your play,” Muskie head coach Bob Swing said afterwards.
This Friday’s rematch with the Spartans in Winnipeg should be very interesting. Hopefully nothing out-of-hand will transpire.
Speaking of transpiring, I bring you shoutouts.
• • •
Mike Allison participated in the annual “Power Play” four-on-four street hockey tournament earlier this month in Dryden. The town raised $11,000 for the Easter Seals Society.
Allison and former Winnipeg Blue Bomber Willard Reeves were celebrity speakers and participants at the event. Allison said there are preliminary plans to hold a similar tournament here next year.
• • •
Aside from the story on the curling opener in this week’s sports section, the Fort Frances Curling Club is looking forward to sending in weekly reports from their leagues.
The writer did not want to be identified so I won’t say anything—except that his name is Rob Sinclair.
No fear, Rob, that will be the last time we refer to you by name. From here on in, I knight thee “From the Fort Frances Curling Club.”
• • •
Siobhan Devlin, a first-year University of Manitoba Bison and recent Fort High graduate, is playing on a contending women’s volleyball team this season.
The Bisons won the Sask Cup last weekend in Saskatoon, defeating the nation’s top-ranked team, the University of Calgary Dinos 3-1 in the best-of-five final.
The Bison are looking to make the climb from their fifth-place ranking.
• • •
Fort Frances native Erin McIvor has been named assistant captain of York University’s varsity women’s hockey team heading into this season.
The second-year kiniseology student and her team will see their first league action this weekend against Brock.

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