Thunder making their move

After earning a crucial four out of six points last week against the top two teams in the Superior International Junior Hockey League, the Borderland Thunder look to continue their strong play this weekend.
Head coach Wayne Strachan said his team’s performance against Dryden (a 5-5 tie) and the Feathermen Hawks here last weekend (a 4-2 win and 4-4 draw) was a test they passed.
“The boys did a good job,” said Strachan. “If someone told me we would have got four out of six possible points, I would have been very happy.”
The Thunder will host the last-place Thunder Bay Wolves on Friday and Saturday before embarking on their Christmas layoff lasting 20 days.
They’ll resume play Jan. 11-12 in Grand Rapids, Mn. for a two-game set against the Northwest Knights.
The third-place Thunder (11-7-7) have just passed the halfway point of their season on a strong note. Since going winless in seven games, the team is in the midst a six-game undefeated streak (4-0-2)
“It’s a good sign for us that we’re turning things around,” said Strachan. “The changes we made are benefiting the team. [Goalie] Rob [Hrabec] made some big saves in all three games for us.”
The Thunder, along with every other SIJHL team, has enjoyed success against the Wolves so far this season—sporting a 5-0 record while outscoring them 20-5.
But as he’s stressed in the past, Strachan said beating the Wolves isn’t a given. “I think this week we have to stay focused,” he remarked. “It’s hard to get a strategy against a last-place team.
“The biggest thing is not to play to their level. If we work hard and not get outworked by them, then I’ll be happy,” he added.
Both weekend games saw the Thunder storm back from third-period deficits. Matt Johnson was the hero both times—netting the game-winner Friday night (his second tally of the game) and then the game-tying marker with 32 seconds to go Saturday.
Kevin Webb, Ian Lockman, and Kyle Prystupa also scored for the Thunder on Saturday while Prystupa and Jay Phillips added goals Friday.
“It’s a huge disappointment,” Hawks head coach Todd Howarth said on how his team faltered in both third periods. “I think we could have won both games here.
“But I give [the Thunder] credit. They kept coming at us and they didn’t get down on themselves,” he added.
Brent Greene, the SIJHL’s leading scorer, tallied twice and added an assist for the Hawks last weekend. He now has 39 points on the season—five ahead of Webb (34).
Last Wednesday, the Thunder went toe-to-toe with the top-ranked Dryden Ice Dogs that ended in a wild finish as Mike English scored three goals—including one in the final minute to force the tie.
Webb scored two in that one while Chad Baldwin, Justin Bodnarchuk, and Johnson added singles in a game that saw four lead changes.
Webb has been a particular thorn in the Ice Dogs’ side so far this season, netting seven points (five goals/two assists) in four games against Dryden.
But head-to-head, the teams have been extremely close (1-1-2).
Both games this Friday and Saturday against the Wolves start at 7:30 p.m. at the Ice for Kids Arena. Tickets cost $7 for adults and $5 for seniors/students.