Thunder looking to turn series around

They wanted it—and they got it.
After sweeping the Dryden Ice Dogs 4-0 in the semi-finals of the SIJHL playoffs last month, the Borderland Thunder were saying bring on the Fort William First Nations North Stars, who had swept their series against the K&A Variety Golden Hawks.
“That’s how it should be—the top two teams in the finals,” Thunder captain Kurt Hogard had said.
“I just wanted to get this [Dryden] series over and done with, and go to the finals and face the North Stars,” echoed Ian Lockman.
But it was the North Stars who got the jump on the Thunder in the best-of-seven final, winning the first two games in Thunder Bay last weekend by scores of 4-3 and 7-4.
Games 3 and 4 and slated for this Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Ice for Kids Arena.
The winner of this series advances to the Dudley Hewitt Cup, which will be held in Georgetown at the end of April.
Both games in Thunder Bay were close. In the opener Friday night, for instance, the Thunder found themselves trailing 3-1 through two periods after a scoreless first.
Aaron Boyer notched the Thunder’s tally, assisted by Morgan Cekalla and Brock Harling.
Lockman (Harling) then made it 3-2 early in the third, but a shorthanded goal by the North Stars turned out to be the difference as Josh McAndrew (Dennis Morrison/Hogard) netted a goal with 13 seconds left but it was too little, too late.
After taking Game 4 off against the Ice Dogs due to health concerns, Thunder goal Tyler Gordon faced 41 shots versus the North Stars to be handed his first loss of the playoffs.
The Thunder, meanwhile, fired 30 shots on Victor Saari, who was ranked as the best overall goalie in the Canadian Junior Hockey League after the regular season.
Then in Saturday’s game, the Thunder led 2-1 after the first period on goals notched by Scott Bridgeman (Tyler Barker/Derek Fisher) and Andrew Dault (Barker, Bridgeman).
Then Steven Sus (Hogard) scored on the power play before Dault (Bridgeman/Hogard) notched his second of the game to make the score 4-4 at the second intermission.
But the North Stars pulled away in the third, scoring three times, including a pair of power-play goals, to seal the 7-4 win.
Gordon faced 43 shots to suffer his second playoff loss while the Thunder managed 31 shots.
The North Stars did well with the extra attacker in the first two games of the series, netting five power-play goals.
“The biggest thing is that you’ve got to get refereeing,” Thunder head coach Dave Allison had said after the Dryden series. “Because our guys are playing disciplined and you should reward guys for being disciplined.
“The North Stars intimidate the referee to make the call and as soon as they make those calls, they embarrass the referee by taking dives,” he added.