Allison issues warning to tepid Thunder

His team is on the mend both physically and emotionally after being swept last weekend in Thunder Bay, but Dave Allison isn’t too worried about hurting the feelings of a few Borderland Thunder members he views as not carrying their weight.
“There’s some players here that have to start justifying their existence on this team,” remarked Allison, whose defending SIJHL champs (6-4) head to Dryden tonight for a confrontation with the first-place Ice Dogs (8-4-2).
“Is it veterans or newcomers? Maybe a little of both,” he added. “They know who they are. We’ve got to go through a process of hard work and intelligence before we can even think about the end results.
“We want to go out there [tonight], play hard, and play smart right from the beginning of the game,” he stressed.
After an early-season string of good luck avoiding injuries, the Thunder are starting to resemble a unit that was run over by a locomotive at full steam.
Captain Josh McAndrew, the team’s third-highest scorer with nine points in eight games, is on the shelf for the next two-three weeks with what Allison called a possible broken bone in his wrist.
“Josh got the injury on the winning goal against the Hawks the weekend before,” Allison said of his second-year forward, who missed his first games with the injury this past weekend against the Fort William First Nation North Stars in Thunder Bay.
“He fell on his hand. It’s a testament to his pain tolerance and his volition to play again [last] Tuesday against Dryden,” Allison added. “He was like [former Toronto Maple Leafs blueliner] Bobby Baun.”
Speaking of defencemen, Andrew Perrault also will be a spectator for the next two-three weeks after injuring his knees in practice last week.
McAndrew and Perrault will be joined in sick bay by defenceman Ryan Mayman, who suffered bruised ribs in the first period of Saturday’s game against Fort William and will be out for one week.
With the onset of injuries also comes the arrival of fresh bodies to fill the void.
Forward Justin Green was picked up by the Thunder from the Billings (Mont.) Bulls of the America West Hockey League while defenceman Charlie Burd was signed away from the Melville Millionaires of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
It’s uncertain whether the pair of 18-year-olds will be on hand for the Thunder’s game tonight in Dryden, or make their debut this Friday and Saturday in Thunder Bay against the fourth-place KC Bulldogs (3-6-2).
< *c>Star struck
The third-place Thunder saw their five-game winning streak come to a crashing halt this past weekend against the second-place North Stars (8-3-1), falling 5-1 on Friday night and then 4-2 on Saturday.
“We had a very poor first game,” remarked Allison. “After winning five in a row, especially with 12-14 rookies on the team, they can become complacent.
“The North Stars were better from the first minute to the 60th minute,” he added. “If it hadn’t been for [Thunder goaltender] Dan Hoehne, it could have been a lot worse.”
Although the Thunder were badly outshot by a 17-8 margin in the first period Friday, Borderland’s Kurt Hogard had the only goal of the period at the 22-second mark when Dennis Morrison and Rob Scales combined to set up his fourth of the season.
The Stars’ offence came to life in the second as Nathan Bruekelman tied it at 2:54, before Brent Greene’s short-handed marker at 14:59 put Fort William ahead for the first time.
The third period belonged to the Stars as team scoring leader Spencer Bodnar collected goals 1:17 apart early in the frame to make it 4-1.
Bruekelman, who joined Bodnar in having a three-point night, finished off the scoring at 14:45. Meanwhile, Fort William goalie Jean-Frederick Beaudoin was untouchable after his early problems to make 20 saves in picking up the victory.
Hoehne countered with 31 saves, but the SIJHL’s reigning goalie-of-the-year saw his record drop to 4-2 for the season.
Allison was much happier with what he saw from his troops Saturday, although they were outshot by an 11-4 count in a scoreless first period.
Bodnar inflicted more misery on the Thunder in the second, connecting on the power-play at 3:49 against -goalie Jared Baldwin after Morrison was sent off for roughing after the whistle.
Ryan Baird made it 2-0 at 10:17 before Travis Lasarge created an even deeper hole for the Thunder with his goal at 17:57, which would be the eventual game-winner.
The momentum turned around in the final 20 minutes, spurred on by a game misconduct handed to Allison at 9:11.
Allison blew a gasket right after Clayton Windigo was whistled for slashing—the sixth infraction to go against the Thunder out of the previous eight penalty calls made.
“You never want to voice your displeasure with the referee,” said Allison, who received a one-game suspension last year for a post-game run-in with an official, but didn’t expect any such fallout from Saturday’s incident.
“They’ve got a difficult job to do. But a couple of times during the season, you have to step in to protect your players,” he reasoned.
The brouhaha fired up the Thunder, with Borderland points leader Kevin Webb (16) rifling his team-high ninth goal of the season at 10:10 while his team killed off the Windigo penalty.
Then, at the tail-end of four-straight penalties called against the Stars, Andrew Dault registered his second of the year as Aaron Boyer and Ryan Kramer set up the power-play tally.
The Thunder charge was stunted, though, as Fort William goalie Andrew Beardy held firm the rest of the way to close out a 27-save performance in grabbing the win.
Mike Greaves salted away the victory, finishing a three-point night by drilling an empty-net goal with nine seconds left as the Thunder’s road record fell to 2-2.
The Thunder’s next home game is this Tuesday (Nov. 4) at 7:30 p.m. when the Ice Dogs return for the teams’ third meeting in two weeks.