Thunder earn yet another sweep against Bulldogs

The infamously-sports-converted-victory-song “We are the Champions” by Queen could be heard from the P.A. system as the Borderland Thunder marched into their locker-room here Saturday night after their 12-1 victory over the KC Bulldogs.
Sean Councillor, who at 6’5” stands heads and shoulders above his teammates, provided his own rendition of the chorus that is bestowed upon winners.
“We did things right today, and we did the things that we wanted to do,” said Councillor, who contributed two goals in Saturday’s romp.
It was clear from his singing performance that Councillor should stick with hockey as his day job, but it was a savory moment for the Thunder who had needed overtime to beat the Bulldogs 5-4 the night before.
“There’s no way we should’ve been that close to that team, but whatever, stuff happens,” said newcomer Riley Dudar, playing in his third week with the Thunder, whose overtime game-winner on Friday was one of four goals and two assists he notched during the weekend series.
“The bigger you win, the better, and we’re just going to keep building as a team and get better,” added Dudar, who has been played exceptionally well considering he has a cast over his right wrist, which has “kind of hindered me from doing stuff when I’m playing, but it’s better than watching.”
The cast will be removed over the Christmas break.
The sweep—the Thunder’s second-straight against the last-place Bulldogs—came as the team got ready to start a three-week break.
As such, the 12-1 victory, in which 23 different players had at least one point, will be the freshest memory in their minds.
“It’s really important to leave with a good feeling about yourself,” said Thunder head coach Dave Allison,” whose choice of apparel gave off an attitude more of Tony Soprano than Scotty Bowman with his dark leather jacket.
“A lot of guys got some points and played well, so tonight was good,” he added.
The weekend wins improved the Thunder’s record to 21-4-1—good enough for second place in the SIJHL at the Christmas break, four points behind the front-running Fort William First Nation North Stars.
“You’ve got to be pretty pleased with where we are right now,” said Allison. “We’re just looking for them to come back healthy and in decent shape, and then it’s just a sprint to the finish.”
“We wanted to end on a good note tonight so that the bar is set higher for when we come back after Christmas,” added Dudar.
The key now is that the players stay focused over the break and not get complacent. Of course, it’s important to get away from a monotonous lifestyle at least for a little while, but it will be crucial they not get away from the good habits they’ve developed up until now.
“We haven’t had a break for a long time, actually we’ve only had one break all season, so maybe for the first three of four days you can really relax,” said third-year defenceman Kurt Hogard.
“But you still got to get back at it, because it can take you one week to get out of shape and then it takes three weeks to get back where you were,” he warned.
“You want them to sort of get away from the snowball that builds every day to come every day to the rink, people putting expectations on them,” said Allison.
“Sometimes it’s nice to get away and sort of reflect that the expectations we are putting on them are quite easy,” he added.
The mentality the players take into the break, and how they come back, also will be a selling point for Allison, who, along with GM Brent Tookenay, will have to make some tough decisions come the new year as the trading deadline nears (Jan. 10).
“It’s up to your professionalism,” Allison stressed. “I mean, you’ve got to realize that we have a lot of players here and if you want to play, then you better take advantage of the opportunity.”
But those decisions won’t come until later. In the meantime, the team should be able to look back with glee over the first half of the season during a time of year when most people also are reminiscing of the year that just passed.
“It’s Christmas, baby,” said Allison. “It’s a wonderful time of the year.”