Thunder pair earn top awards

Two Borderland Thunder players earned top honours at the SIJHL awards banquet Sunday in Thunder Bay.
Kevin Webb was voted league MVP by the SIJHL coaches while Kurt Hogard was named the league’s top defenceman.
“It’s a great honour for Kevin Webb,” said Thunder coach Dave Allison. “I think he had a hand in 50 to 60 percent of our offence this year.”
Webb finished the season fifth in league scoring with 34 goals and 35 assists in 47 games. During the playoffs, he had five goals and six assists in the Thunder’s seven-game semi-final series against the Dryden Ice Dogs.
Hogard was second in team scoring with 10 goals and 29 assists in 46 games, along with 32 penalty minutes. But he was the force to be reckoned with during the Thunder’s playoff run, netting three goals and three assists in seven games, with 12 penalty minutes.
“He was, by far, the best defenceman,” Allison said of Hogard. “This bodes well for his future opportunity to play at higher levels.”
The Fort William North Stars dominated the other awards handed out Sunday, including Todd Howarth (top coach), Cory Bruno (best defensive forward), Steve Atkins (regular season scoring title), and Dan Beardy (top goalie).
Rounding out the award winners were Brady Laskowski of the KC Bulldogs (scholastic achievement) and Brent Irwin of the K&A Golden Hawks (most improved player).
The SIJHL also held its annual general meeting over the weekend, with expansion one of the topics on the agenda.
“It is something that they’re pursuing but it’s got to make sense for us, as well,” said Allison, who added he would rather see the league expand into Minnesota instead of having a team in Kenora which might threaten the Midget ‘AAA’ squad there.
As for the 2004-05 season, Allison expects his defensive corps to be back, although the Thunder will have two big holes to fill with the loss of Webb (who led the team in scoring for three years) and goalie Dan Hoehne, who was a major reason for the Thunder’s success last season.
“You’ve got a big hole to fill in Danny Hoehne, but there’s some great goaltenders out there,” said Allison.
He also has been doing his fair share of scouting for the Thunder, citing Tanner Kaemingh and Cody Dittaro (from the Kenora ‘AAA’ Midget Stars) and Muskie Steve Sus as players he’d like to see try out for the team.
“As long as we get enough kids here that want to develop and want to get better,” he stressed. “That’s what this league is about—give local kids the opportunity to improve.”
Allison also hoped to see a few of last season’s Thunder players get tryouts for pro teams. “Get [Ian] Lockman and a couple of other guys pro tryouts,” he said. “Give them a sniff of what it takes.”