Regional squad tops at tourney

Joey Payeur

The Thunder Bolts, coached by local resident Ron MacKinnon, captured the U12 Tier I division at the USA International Hockey Cup tournament in Blaine, Mn., dumping the 01 Os Selects 10-2 in Sunday’s final.
“The girls played unbelievable,” said MacKinnon, whose squad rolled to a 5-0 record at the tournament while outscoring their opponents 36-3.
“They’re a really coachable group.”
The Bolts are based out of Thunder Bay, where they first gathered three summers ago to form the team.
Since then, though, the squad has taken on a definite Rainy River District look to it.
Lillie MacKinnon, Siobhan MacKintosh, Kelsey Langtry, and Jenna Clendenning represent the Fort contingent on the Bolts while Sydney Beck, Taylor Croswell, and Avery Cates make up the Emo-based portion.
The Thunder Bolts, which also features players from Thunder Bay, Dryden, and Kenora, opened the tourney with a 7-0 whitewashing of the Northern Polar Bears, then blanked the U12 Elite 4-0 in their second game.
In a preview of the final, the Thunder Bolts later blasted the 01 Os Selects 7-1 in their third outing.
Game 4 of the Bolts’ championship run was an 8-0 drubbing of the Lone Star Lady Wolves.
The Thunder Bolts had finished third in two previous tournaments this year in Duluth and Winnipeg.
Coach MacKinnon credited the team’s familiarity with one another as a big key to its success in Blaine.
“It was such a great experience when they first got together and they have stayed together each summer since then,” he noted.
Meanwhile, two other local players also made the trip to Blaine as part of the U10 Borderland Rage, which finished with a 1-4 record in the U10 Tier II American Division.
Fort resident Jillian Calder led her team in scoring with four goals and two assists in the five games while Emo’s Ashlyn Beck produced a solid effort playing right-wing.
The Rage, also featuring players from Dryden and Kenora, opened the weekend with an 11-1 defeat to the Miracle Black U10 Tier II team, then fell 7-2 to the Polar Xpress U10 squad.
Borderland finally broke into the win column with a 6-4 victory over the 04 Machine Orange.
But in a rematch in the playoff round, Machine Orange exacted revenge with an identical 6-4 defeat of the Rage.
That loss dropped the Rage into the consolation final, where the Bandits posted a 6-1 win over Borderland.