Thunder rally to tie, but lose in overtime

Optimistic fans would say the Borderland Thunder, who lead their best-of-seven semi-final series 3-2, still have two cracks to knock off the Thunder Bay KC Bulldogs and advance to the SIJHL final.
Yet even they know Saturday night’s narrow 5-4 overtime loss in Game 5 here to force the series back to Thunder Bay for Game 6 tonight is flirting with danger.
“It’s going to be a lot of hard work [tonight],” Thunder head coach Wayne Strachan admitted.
After rallying to tie the game at 4-4 with two goals in the final minute of regulation time, the Thunder controlled most of the scoring chances against the Bulldogs—who had brought only 13 skaters—in the 22 minutes of sudden death time.
Their top two lines each had open chances on Bulldogs goalie Ryan O’Gorman, but were either stopped or just missed the open side.
Then after yet another flurry of Thunder chances, a blueline steal by the Bulldogs resulted in John Antoniak squeaking a bouncer past Thunder goalie Rob Hrabec with 8:04 left in the second overtime.
“We were very lucky to come away with that one,” said Bulldogs head coach Brian Vescio. “[The Thunder] were pressing hard but that’s usually what happens in overtime. The lucky bounce wins it.”
Ian Lockman and Kevin Webb had scored in an 18-second span in the final minute of the third period to tie the game. Lockman tallied on a point shot rebound on a 6-on-4 man advantage.
Then after the Thunder pulled Hrabec, Webb’s shot found its way through a crowd and into the bottom right corner of the net.
“This is a big opportunity that we let go,” said Strachan. “We came back and tied the game but for [the first] 40 to 50 minutes we just weren’t in the game.
“We have to regroup and come back for Game 6,” he stressed.
Game 7, if necessary, will be played back here tomorrow night. So far, the team to score first has won all five games of the series.
The Bulldogs had grabbed a 2-0 lead Saturday after goals by Tyler Bruno and Tom Grant.
In the second, Thunder defenceman Terry Parisien scored on a 5-on-3 advantage to cut the gap to 2-1. But then Brian Dzijak and Wes Case scored within a minute to increase the lead to 4-1 early the third.
Lockman then scored on a pretty second effort while on his knees to beat O’Gorman.
Strachan said his team knows what it has to do to finally finish the series off.
“I think we have to look back and realize that in the three games we won, we jumped on them early and took it to them hard,” he said. “That’s how hard we have to work for the whole game [tonight].”
Meanwhile, the Dryden Ice Dogs await the winner of this series after sweeping the Feathermen Hawks in their best-of-seven semi-final series with 3-2 and 6-4 victories at the Dryden Recreation Centre over the weekend.