Thunder make trades, cut to bolster defence

The Borderland Thunder announced a slew of roster changes Friday morning prior to heading to Thunder Bay for a crucial three-game series against the last-place Wolves.
Two deals made Wednesday night saw defenceman Marty Hanson, along with future considerations, shipped to the Waywayseecappo Wolverines of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League for goalie Rob Hrabec.
And defenceman Ryan Hampton, a Fort Frances native, was acquired from the MJHL’s Winnipeg Saints for future considerations.
“The deals were made to strengthen some of our defence and to solidify a number-one goalie,” Thunder head coach Wayne Strachan said this morning.
The team is hoping Hrabec will strengthen their goaltending. In 19 appearances in his second season with the Wolverines, the 20-year-old Kenora native had a 4-13 record with a 5.52 goals against average.
But Waywayseecappo does sport the second-weakest team defence in the MJHL, allowing 156 goals.
Meanwhile, Hampton, a 19-year-old at 6’2” and 195 pounds, returns to local ice after a year-and-a-half with the Saints.
Shipping out is Hanson, an 18-year old Nestor Falls native who played with the Kenora ‘AAA’ Stars before joining the Thunder, where he scored two goals in 16 games to go along with 18 penalty minutes.
“It’s tough to let a player like Marty go. Sometimes you have to let a good player go to get a good player and that’s what happened,” said Strachan.
“I wish Marty the best of luck.”
While team officials still were getting a final OK from the MJHL this morning, Strachan said Hrabec and Hampton were with the Thunder (8-7-5) and scheduled to play in tonight’s game against Wolves.
In related news, the Thunder also cut five players, including forwards Tom Rose and Steven King, defenceman Sean McKie, and goalie Chris Cain on Tuesday.
Goalie Jason Flatt was let go yesterday.
Cain appeared in five games between the pipes this season, posting a 2-0-2 record and a 4.09 GAA. Flatt had a 2-4 record with a 4.07 GAA.
“I’m a bit surprised,” Cain said from his Devlin home last night after seeing little game time over the past several weeks. “But I knew they were looking to trim their roster down.”
McKie and King, a pair of Kenora natives, had seen regular ice time this season. King scored eight points in 15 games while McKie had a goal in 13 games.
Rose was a member of the Muskies’ gold-medal team last season. The Fort native had played in 13 games and scored one goal for the Thunder.
Strachan said some of the players cut—whom he did not want to identify—weren’t handling themselves in the best manner off the ice.
“We let a couple of guys go because team morality and chemistry will be a lot better without them,” he said.
Roster changes had been in the works for several weeks as the Thunder, and all the other Superior International Junior Hockey League teams, must pare down their rosters down to 25 by tomorrow.
By Jan. 10, all teams are required to finalize their rosters to 21 skaters so more moves may be in the offing.
“We’re going to see how things go,” said Strachan. “There’s a couple more guys we have our eye on that can help offensively.
“We’re heading in the right direction,” he added.