Thunder win twice to open tourney

Thunder head coach Dave Allison probably won’t have to put his special teams units through the paces next week—they had plenty of practice yesterday.
Penalty killing and power plays were front and centre as the Thunder opened play in the Superior International Junior Hockey League’s second-annual “Showcase Tournament” with a pair of wins here yesterday.
The Thunder rolled over the Nipigon Feathermen Hawks 4-1 yesterday afternoon before downing the St. Paul Lakers 5-2 last night.
The team next plays the Northwest Wisconsin Knights today at 7:30 p.m. at the Ice for Kids Arena, then wrap up round-robin play tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. against the Dryden Ice Dogs.
The championship final—pitting the top team from each pool—goes Sunday at 12:30 p.m.
“I saw a lot of good things out there [yesterday],” said Allison, whose team scored a power-play goal against the Hawks and then netted two short-handed markers and another power-play goal versus the Lakers.
“Our defence did a good job backing their forwards out from in front of the net and our goalies did great in controlling the rebounds,” he added.
Nipigon jumped ahead 1-0 on Jeff Goodchild’s power-play tally at 3:27 of the first period but the Thunder stormed back with four unanswered goals.
Chad Baldwin tied it while the Thunder were enjoying a two-man advantage at 6:32, before Chris Shaen notched the eventual game-winner at 16:13.
Kyle Prystupa, who assisted on Baldwin’s goal, made it 3-1 at 5:23 of the second period on a set-up from Matt Johnson, who scored himself at the 11-minute mark of the third.
The line of Prystupa, Johnson, and A.J. Tucker earned Allison’s praise for their work in both games, as did forward Josh Baxter. “Josh was really creating [opportunities] off the forecheck,” said Allison.
A slow start also plagued the Thunder in a chippy clash with the Lakers last night, which saw the two teams take a combined 130 minutes in penalties.
Derek Schoen beat Thunder goalie A.J. Schneidmiller with a low shot from the point at 2:50 of the first.
Then with Borderland down two men, Tucker tied it at 10:45 with a perfect backhand shot underneath the crossbar after a feed from Johnson.
The top line was back at it at 19:32, with Johnson and Prystupa combining on a 2-on-1 as the latter finished the play with another backhander.
Johnson scored the lone goal at 15:32 of the second, whipping a wrist shot past St. Paul goalie Ross Patrick with Thunder defenceman Jay Phillips charging the net.
Kevin Webb and Josh McAndrew (shorthanded) both hit the twine for the Thunder in the third, with the Lakers’ Steve Nelson’s power-play goal closing the scoring.
Nelson’s drive was the power-play goal St. Paul had in the game despite Borderland being two men short for extended periods different three times.
“The discipline’s not a concern, considering the circumstances,” said Allison. “It was a good first day.”