Late goal costs Thunder win

It took one bounce in the last minute of the third period to turn a would-be Borderland Thunder comeback road victory into a 5-5 tie against the first-place Dryden Ice Dogs on Wednesday night.
After pulling their goalie, Dryden’s Mike English capped a natural hat trick by banking the puck off a defender and over Thunder goalie Rob Hrabec’s right shoulder during a mad scramble in front of the net—much to the delight of the 600-plus fans at the Dryden Memorial Arena.
“Just a lucky bounce. Up and over. I had no real chance,” said Hrabec, whose Thunder (10-7-6) remained in third place in the Superior International Junior Hockey League standings.
“I’m happy we got a point out of it but you always want the two.”
Ice Dogs head coach Al Trotz, who coached against Hrabec in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, said he knew his team had one more rally left in them.
“Rob’s a floppy goaltender and I know he goes low, and we just told the boys to get in close,” Trotz said.
The play capped a furious third period in which the teams combined for five goals—including ones by Justin Bodnarchuk at 6:31 and Matt Johnson at 3:31 to give the Thunder the one-goal lead.
Defenceman David Lloyd earned assists on both goals after strong corner work got the puck on net.
English had scored twice on the power play earlier in the period.
Kevin Webb scored his league-leading 22nd and 23rd goals of the season, and Chad Baldwin added one, to give the Thunder a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes.
All three came off rebounds Dryden goalie Ryan McGillis was unable to corral.
Justin Ternowski and Albert Kavanaugh also scored for the Ice Dogs.
“We had a couple of leads and fought so hard to get back into the game,” said Thunder head coach Wayne Strachan. “It’s frustrating but we’ll take it.
“A 5-5 tie on the road against the best team in the league is not a bad thing,” he added.
The Thunder outshot Dryden 30-25, and went four-for-eight on the power play. Strachan was pleased his top two scoring lines—one centered by Webb and the other by Johnson—accounted for all their offence.
“It’s good to see they were clicking,” he noted. “But we have to rely on our other lines, too. . . . Overall, we’re starting to play at the level where we should be.”
The tie maintained the Ice Dogs’ undefeated home record (7-0-2), as well as returned the favour of a Nov. 4 game here when the Thunder scored two late goals to earn a 3-3 tie.
“We came back well. Our undisciplined play almost killed us,” said Trotz.
The contest was another heated affair. Borderland captain Josh Baxter and his Dryden counterpart, Brian Rankin, both were ejected for misconduct penalties in the third.
The Thunder also wasn’t pleased with English’s celebratory antics—notably his chest-first dive along the ice in front of the visitors’ bench after scoring the game-tying goal.
“It’s part of the game. But that’s the way they play. They’ve always been like that,” said Bodnarchuk.
The Thunder will get a another crack at the Ice Dogs here Jan. 22.
This weekend, they’ll host the second-place Feathermen Hawks (14-7-2) in a pair of games Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Ice for Kids Arena.