Thunder split with North Stars

Essentially the difference between the Borderland Thunder’s two games here this past weekend against the Fort William First Nation North Stars came down to penalties.
In Friday night’s 4-1 loss to the first-place North Stars, the Thunder spent 47 minutes occupying the penalty box.
“They’re going to come here and they’re going to challenge the referee to make calls, and once they make the calls, they’re going to start and take the dives,” said Thunder head coach Dave Allison.
“They’re just a really smart team,” said head coach Dave Allison.
Aaron Boyer netted the lone Thunder goal with four minutes left in the first period, assisted by Riley Dudar and Andrew Dault.
“I think the penalties kind of did us in and let our emotions get to us a little bit,” said Thunder defenceman Derek Fisher.
The Thunder were outshot 29-25.
On Saturday, though, the Thunder settled their emotions and were able to rally for a 3-2 win after being down 2-0 after the first period.
The Thunder amassed 38 minutes in penalties, which still may sound like a lot, but when you compare it to the North Stars’ 53 minutes, it wasn’t much at all.
In what probably was the most significant game of the regular season, the Thunder were able to pull together after a lackluster first period, which Allison simply described as, “They played us like a fiddle.”
“It had the playoff atmosphere, and we were all going hard and we wanted it more than them,” said forward Ian Lockman.
Lockman was a force all night, and notched the Thunder’s first goal on the power-play three minutes into the second period after a first intermission that saw Allison berate his players for five minutes.
“Dave came in and got us fired up, and everyone knew what they had to do,” said Boyer. “And we went out there and played with probably the most heart I’ve seen the team play with all year.”
It was Boyer who tied the score at 2-2 eight minutes into the third period on a lovely wrist shot that squeaked underneath Victor Saari of the North Stars, who is ranked as the best all-around goalie in the Canadian Junior Hockey League.
Fisher and Riley Dudar drew the assists.
Steven Sus then got the game-winner four minutes later as he veered across deep in the North Stars’ zone to find himself alone. He waited until Saari fell to his knees to put the puck top shelf on the glove side.
Fisher and Ryan Mayman assisted.
“I’m just happy to be back in the lineup. It’s been quite a while, so I’m pretty happy to get back in,” said Sus, who has been out for close to two months with a shoulder injury.
Tyler Gordon stopped 20 of the North Stars’ 22 shots to avenge the previous night’s defeat. He now sports a 16-6-3 record.
The Thunder (25-8-3) remained in second place in the SIJHL with the split. The North Stars already have clinched first place with a 32-2-2 record, with both losses and the ties coming against Borderland.
“The challenge now for them [the Thunder] is to understand that they’ve got to keep the standard up,” said Allison.
The Thunder next will play the Dryden Ice Dogs, who are 33 points behind in third place, there Wednesday night. They’ll be looking to avenge a 4-1 loss the last time the teams met two weeks ago.
“This [Saturday’s win] is only one game and now we’ve got to re-establish ourselves against Dryden,” said Allison. “We don’t want to take a step back.”

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