Thunder off to best start in team history

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand why the Borderland Thunder are still undefeated in SIJHL play after 10 games.
Just turn on your computer, double-click on the Internet icon on your desktop, type in www.sijhl.com in the address box, move your pointer to the statistics icon in the right-hand box, and click.
There you’ll find the leading scorers in the SIJHL—with three Thunder players sitting 1-2-3 in the standings. Josh McAndrew leads the way with nine goals and 11 assists), followed by Dennis Morrison (five goals/10 assists) and Aaron Boyer (six goals/eight assists).
These three have been the bread-and-butter for the Thunder, and it’s no coincidence they also make up the team’s top line.
And over the weekend in Thunder Bay against the Bulldogs, that top line was nothing but exceptional.
“I think that top line is such an excellent teaching tool for our guys,” Thunder head coach Dave Allison said.
“They go out there and they skate. They go out there and they work, and communicate, and they play with great intelligence,” he added.
The trio alone amassed five goals and 12 assists in the Thunder’s 9-0 and 6-3 wins over the Bulldogs to leave the team with a 9-0-1 mark heading into tonight’s game in Dryden against the Ice Dogs (4-8).
Allison has looked to the McAndrew line to set examples the rest of the team can follow.
“You’ve got to read off that and say, ‘Man, they’re having fun,’ and it’s not brain surgery, or it’s not chicanery or trickery that they’re using,” he stressed. “They’re just using good habits and supports for each other.
“And when you see that, it rubs off on other guys, and we’ve had a lot more guys doing it,” he added.
The Thunder travelled to the Lakehead on Friday and Saturday to face the winless Bulldogs, who they had beaten the previous weekend here by scores of 7-0 and 6-0.
They were confident, but not cocky, going in.
“Every game starts at 0-0, and any team can come out on any day and beat any team in this league, so you still have to get fired up and get the good jump,” said Thunder defenceman Kurt Hogard.
Another positive coming from the weekend was that other players began stepping into the limelight and shouldering some of the burden the top line was carrying.
A game misconduct handed to Morrison late in the first period of Saturday’s game forced Allison to shuffle his lines, and he decided to insert first-year Thunder player Steven Sus on the top line.
And he was not disappointed with the 17-year-old’s play.
“We lost Dennis Morrison, but a kid like Steven Sus stepped in between those two guys and he was exceptional,” Allison said of Sus, who had two goals and two assists in that game.
He’s now the league’s eighth-leading scorer with six goals and four assists.
“[Sus] is a calculating, intelligent player that has the ability to adjust to whatever type of game it is, and it was exciting and it was fun to watch,” Allison remarked.
But while the Thunder are enjoying their best start in franchise history, they still have much to work on, Allison said.
“Really, we’ve got to get better because the playoffs are another season,” he stressed.
“If we’re fortunate enough to have success there, we don’t just want to show up. We want to go there and compete and we want to win, or at least put ourselves in a position to have no regrets.
“They’ve played well, though, and it’s coming,” Allison added.
After tonight’s game in Dryden, the Thunder next will host the K&A Variety Golden Hawks (Thunder Bay) this Friday (7:30 p.m.) and Saturday (5 p.m.) at the Ice for Kids Arena.

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