Thunder take two from Hawks

The Feathermen Hawks were missing some feathers, but they nearly warbled their way to a split against the top team in the SIJHL.
Having only one victory in their last 11 outings, and playing with only 13 skaters, the Hawks were annihilated 8-1 by the visiting Borderland Thunder on Saturday night to open the two-game series.
But it was the Thunder who slipped by on a wing and a prayer Sunday afternoon as it took David Lloyd’s overtime goal to boost Borderland (18-4-4-1) to a 4-3 victory over the Hawks (8-19-1-4).
Matt Johnson started the game-winning play in the overtime, streaking down the wing before feathering a pass to Lloyd, who fired it home for his second of the season to stretch the Thunder’s unbeaten streak to five games.
“The win put everyone in good spirits,” said head coach Dave Allison, whose team has gone 7-1-1 in their last nine games. “It would have been disappointing to lose that game. We didn’t play that bad Sunday.”
Josh Baxter (his seventh), Josh McAndrew (13th), and Clayton Windigo (fourth) had the other Thunder goals. Brent Assiniwai had a pair for the Hawks, with Aaron Stirrett adding a single.
Johnson had four assists in Saturday’s rout while A.J. Tucker netted a hat trick to push his season total to 14 goals.
Kyle Prystupa, who leads all Thunder snipers with 16 tallies on the season, notched a pair along with Ian Lockman, while McAndrew chipped in with a single.
Eric Robin had the lone Hawks’ goal.
Allison cited the presence at the games of assistant coach Todd Jones, on a scouting assignment from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, as a possible factor in the Thunder appearing somewhat nervous.
“When you know there’s a scout in the stands, sometimes you try and do things as an individual to impress them,” Allison reasoned. “But it’s how you impress as a group that then lets the individual players stand out.”
Allison also was pleased with his squad’s concentration level against a struggling team with the Christmas break just around the corner.
“The Hawks were shorthanded to begin with, but I thought the guys stayed focused and played very well,” Allison remarked. “They capitalized on some goal-scoring chances, and it was nice to see.”
The Thunder went into the holiday break pushing their lead in the SIJHL standings to seven points over the Thunder Bay KC Bulldogs (15-10-2-1) and the Fort William Wolves (13-11-3-4).
The defending champion Dryden Ice Dogs remain in fourth place (8-19-1-4), 19 points behind the Thunder, while the Hawks sit in fifth, two points behind the Ice Dogs.
The Northwest Wisconsin Knights (4-9), who play only a partial SIJHL schedule, are firmly planted in the basement.
Meanwhile, with the holiday break ahead, Allison hopes Santa will bring him a healthier, revamped line-up to take him through the second half of the season.
“Kevin Webb [A-C joint in shoulder] hopefully will be able to take some contact in practice this week, and Aaron Grynol [rotator cuff] is close to returning,” said Allison.
The Thunder also were without defenceman Dallas Mosbeck against the Hawks because the blueliner was finishing off his flight training in Manitoba last weekend.
While Allison considers his forward lines as deep as any in the country, the other two main areas of the Thunder roster have him slightly concerned.
“We still have to solve our defence and goaltending situation,” he admitted. “We’ve got until the Jan. 10 signing deadline to solidify those positions.
“We’ve got some difficult decisions in regards to that,” he added. “I don’t know if it means bringing [players] in, or if the guys here are going to step up and play consistently.”
The issue between the pipes isn’t so much about performance as Jamie Munro won both his starts to improve his record to 7-1-1, but the health of regular starter Dan Hoehne.
The Duluth, Mn. native, who has a 6-2 mark to go along with a league-leading .905 save percentage, was forced into the back-up role for the second-straight weekend due to a headache condition Allison said may be post-concussion syndrome.
“Dan had problems with headaches last year, and then was involved in a collision at a recent practice that re-aggravated the problem,” Allison noted.
“We’re concerned for his health, but we’ll get back on Dec. 30 and see where we’re at.”
The Thunder don’t return to action until Jan. 3-4 when they welcome the Bulldogs to the Ice for Kids Arena.