Things were looking good for the Fort Frances Thunderhawks as they kicked off their senior ‘AAA’ season in Kenora on Friday night.
But a short bench further cut by penalties, injuries, and ejections eventually did in the visitors as they fell 5-3 to the Thistles.
The T’hawks jumped out to a good start as defenceman Jake Esselink got Fort Frances on the board after pouncing on a rebound.
Then after a pair of Ross Johnson goals, the locals were rolling, heading into the third period with a 3-1 lead.
However, the story of the third was penalties as Kenora beat Chris Medicine twice in five-on-three situations to even the game at 3-3.
Kenora eventually tallied twice more to seal the victory.
Midway through the third, the T’hawks only had four players on the bench, leaving the team in a tough spot.
T’hawks coach Randy White said that despite the loss, he saw a number of positives from his team, especially in situations where the T’hawks and Thistles were evenly matched on the ice.
“It was good to see them five-on-five,” he remarked. “We took it to them.
“I think Kenora had their eyes opened a little bit.
“If we can stay five-on-five with them, we’ll be fine,” White predicted.
White also said the offence looked potent when given the chance while the defence and Medicine put in a yeoman’s effort on the back end.
“Our forward lines, they were flying, all three lines,” he recalled.
“We were shorthanded on the defensive end of it, so the guys we had, they got a ton of ice time and were double-shifting.
“They were pretty tired after Friday night,” he noted.
The T’hawks have four more meetings with the Thistles this season, including their next showdown Jan. 11 at 8 p.m. at the ’52 Canadians Arena.
Fort Frances will be back on the ice before that rematch, however.
The squad will host its home-opener this Saturday (Dec. 18) at 6:45 p.m. when the Manitoba Lightning come to town.
The teams will square off again Sunday at 12:30 p.m.
Before Saturday’s game, the T’hawks will hold a dedication ceremony in honour of Clayton “Beef” Windigo, a defenceman for the team who passed away this summer.
The ceremony is slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. (not 6:15 p.m. as originally scheduled).