Thunder readies for rookie camp

With the front office and coaching staff in place, the Borderland Thunder are looking to turn its attention to their on-ice product this weekend with their invite-only rookie camp–the unofficial start to the new season.
“Things have always gone smoothly in my eyes,” head coach Dave Allison said. “You just have to get some people to fit in . . . Everything finds a way of getting done.”
The camp will kick off Friday evening at the Memorial Sports Centre after registrations at 6 p.m. Practice drills and scrimmages will continue starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
“Guys are going to camp, and we just want them to have an opportunity to get some skating in,” said Allison. “It’ll be a good experience for them to gauge where they stand.”
Last week, Allison, a former head coach in various pro leagues, including the NHL, IHL, and AHL, organized informal night skates with Thunder players in town. He said the veterans won’t be skating this weekend but will have a chance to get their legs back in preparation for the main training camp on Aug. 30-Sept. 1.
“I think we’re going to get some ice time for them when we’re done [with rookie camp]. It’s an evaluation camp. We want to evaluate young, up-and-coming talent,” he said. “We want to identify some kids.”
He added one of the main holes the team needs to fill is at the starting goalie position, left empty by Rob Hrabec’s graduation out of the junior ranks. In addition, all veteran players the team has been contact with should be signed by then.
Among last week’s administrative moves was the return of former head coach Wayne Strachan as an assistant general manager and director of player development. Greg Madill is the new assistant coach alongside returnees Sean Taggart and Neil Cooper. Madill said getting the chance to join Allison on the bench was something not to turn down.
“We’ve been friends a long time and when he approached me on [joining], I wouldn’t pass up an opportunity like that–to work with a guy with that much experience,” said Madill, 44, who co-coached the Muskie girls’ hockey team the past two years.
As for Strachan, Allison said the entire team is on the same page and looking forward to the season ahead.
“I welcomed him aboard. It’s great to have him back,” he said. “This is my first year, so I have to take the lead from a lot of people right now. In that sense, it’s good to have Wayne here. I’m just trying to find my way around.
“I’m confident we’ll get better as the year progresses. If we can get some of the players we’ve been talking to sign on, we’ll be really good,” he added.
Season tickets also went on sale last week. They cost $150 and are available at Skates and Blades on Scott Street.