Thunder lose first home game

It looked like the Borderland Thunder were well on their way to snapping a six-game winless streak Saturday night against the visiting Iron Range Yellow Jackets. With a 4-2 lead and a five-minute power play with nine minutes to play, it was all mathematical, right?
Well, not exactly.
The Yellow Jackets scored four goals in the final six minutes to shock the Thunder 6-4 after the two teams had settled for a 5-5 tie Friday night.
The loss, which was the Thunder’s first on home ice, instead extended their winless streak to seven games (0-5-2) although they continue to sit in third place (7-7-5) in the Superior International Junior Hockey League.
Thunder defenceman Jay Phillips had taken a blatant cross-check from Steve Denny to draw the five-minute power play but the hosts failed to score.
Yellow Jackets forward Andy Reitan cued the comeback off an odd-man rush during a four-on-four situation, batting the puck by Thunder goalie Tom Iwaniec.
Craig Hartz netted the tying goal at the 3:55 mark before Reitan cut right past two defencemen to fool Iwaniec for the eventual game-winner with 2:52 left.
Dennis Zemanovic added an empty-netter off a long clearing attempt with 37 seconds to go to ice the win.
“What happened was downright embarrassing. That should have never happened,” Thunder head coach Wayne Strachan said of the third-period collapse.
Justin Bodnarchuk opened the scoring with a power-play goal in the first period, and the Thunder seemed to have taken control in the second when he and recent addition Chad Baldwin scored a minute apart on Iron Range goalie Nick Niedert to grab a 3-0 lead.
After the Yellow Jackets scored two to cut the gap to 3-2, Josh Baxter scored with 22 seconds left in the second to give the Thunder a two-goal cushion.
Iron Range head coach Eric Ballard said it was rewarding to his players to finally beat the Thunder after losing twice to them in the pre-season tournament back in September.
“We needed this win [against the Thunder],” said Ballard. “We’ve had leads against this team and they’ve come back to bite us.
“That five-minute major was a big one for them. I thought for sure if they got one [goal], it would change the course of the game,” he added.
In Friday’s game, the Thunder battled back from a three-goal deficit to take a 5-4 lead in the third period. But Reitan scored at the 10-minute mark to force the tie.
Boomer Redford, Matt Johnson, Baldwin, Kris Esselink, and Bodnarchuk scored for the Thunder.
Meanwhile, injury front continues to haunt the Thunder as David Lloyd (sore leg) and Adam McTavish (shoulder) missed the weekend action.
Elsewhere in SIJHL over the weekend, the Dryden Ice Dogs beat the Feathermen Hawks (Thunder Bay) twice by scores of 4-3 and 3-2 to take over first-place overall.
Other action saw the Northwest Knights (Spooner, Wis.) dump the Thunder Bay Wolves 4-0 and 4-2.
The Thunder’s next game will be against the last-place Wolves (1-13-1) here Sunday. The puck drops at 3 p.m. at the “Ice for Kids” Arena.