And the survey says!
No, this is not another episode of the “Family Feud” game show but rather the Thunder’s thoughts on some aspects of a season that ended here Saturday with a sweep by the Fort William First Nation North Stars in the best-of-seven SIJHL final.
Questions were given to the players during a road trip to Dryden a while back, and it should be interesting to see where their minds were at before they entered the playoffs.
The team has done considerably better than last year’s regular season in terms of wins, so what changed from last season to this season?
Josh McAndrew—This year, the team has a lot more skill and experience. Last year we weren’t as strong individually, but played better as a team. It showed down the stretch and in the playoffs, when we beat more talented teams.
Kurt Hogard—Weaker teams.
Clayton Windigo—We had a good, quick start and gelled as a team.
Derek Fisher—Having most of the team contributing rather than a couple of players getting all of the glory.
Ryan Mayman—Our practice habits have changed a lot, and coach [Dave Allison] has given us a lot of support and drive to get better every day.
Aaron Boyer—Better depth has the team as well as experienced defenseman, and we have four lines that can play.
David Gooch—Smarter team.
What has contributed to the team’s success?
Riley Dudar—Good goalie, but I think we can improve a lot on pretty much all parts of the game.
Hogard—Nothing. Success is based from who wins the final game of the season.
Tanner Kaemingh—One of the main things is that we work hard for the whole game. Our third period is usually our strongest period, which shows our persistence.
Martin Kloucek—Hard work, good coaching, and smart hockey.
Ian Lockman—Good passing, good goaltending, listening to Metallica. Hot eats and cool treats, and playing as a team!
Scott Bridgeman—Hard work and team commitment.
During your tenure with the Thunder, what have you learned that has helped you develop as a player?
Tyler Gordon—There is no substitute for hard work. People have come and gone, but they all have the same common goal “work ethic” with a cause.
Morgan Cekalla—I have learned a completely new hockey style from Dave [Allison]. He shows you how the little things add up to a lot in the end.
Kloucek—To work and to know yourself. I know that there is always room for improvement.
McAndrew—No matter how good you are or where you come from, if you’re not going to help the team, you’re not going to play. In my first year, a four-year vet, who was top 10 in scoring in the MJHL, sat in the finals because he wasn’t prepared to work.
And what have you learned that has helped you mature as a person?
Dennis Morrison—Listen to what people say and take their good advice.
Brock Harling—The one thing that Dave [Allison] has taught me that no other coach has is life lessons and not just hockey plays.
Mayman—I have learned that hard work and effort are the only ways to succeed in hockey and life, I have also learned a lot about respect.
Fisher—That these are the greatest years of my life because I’m at the age where I can decide what I want to do for the rest of my life.
Bridgeman—Play for the guy beside you and never put yourself above the team.
Gooch—To live life as if you knew it was your last day alive.
What has been your welcome-to-junior-hockey-moment?
Hogard—In my first year, trying to keep up with the older guys while drinking.
Kevin Kauk—I was playing with the Dauphin Kings last year and we were playing the OCN Blizzards and in the third period a brawl broke out and their goalie skated down and we fought. I got a black eye, and after on the bus, the boys were all like, ‘Welcome to juniors, Kauk.’
Windigo—Playing in the first ever home game in front of a packed arena.
Bridgeman—Probably the first time I got hit in the face with a stick and realized I wasn’t wearing a full hockey mask.
Harling—Playing for the Fargo-Moorhead Jets and scoring a goal and an assist, and having an all-around solid game, and not being in the lineup for the next game.
And the survey says!