Thunder Streaking

Something will have to give Friday night as the second-place Borderland Thunder, unbeaten in 11-straight games, host the fourth-place Thunder Bay KC Bulldogs, who have gone without a loss in their past seven.
“It’s going to be a hard fought battle,” Thunder coach Wayne Strachan said. “Out of the top four teams, the Bulldogs are, by far, the most improved from when the season started.”
The Thunder (15-7-8) are coming off a weekend road trip to Spooner which saw them beat the host Northwest Wisconsin Knights 7-3 on Friday night and then tie them 1-1 on Saturday on a late goal by Kevin Webb.
They blew open a 3-3 tie Friday with a four-goal third period. Thunder scorers in that one were Kyle Prystupa, Chad Baldwin, Josh Baxter, Boomer Redford, Ian Lockman, and Webb (with two to give him a league-leading 27 on the season).
The Thunder are 1-3-1 in five meetings against the Bulldogs (14-11-3) so far this season, but four of those were decided by one goal. The Bulldogs swept the Thunder in November at the Fort William Gardens.
“Overall, we’re getting where we want to go. The top four teams are very close. The race towards the playoffs looks really good,” said Bulldog head coach Brian Vescio.
“[Borderland and us] are two pretty good teams going in the right direction,” he added.
Both the Thunder and Bulldogs also are evenly matched in the roster shuffle department. Borderland acquired defenceman Troy Arnold from the Iron Range Yellow Jackets for future considerations last week.
He played against the Knights and assisted on the game-winning goal Friday.
“I’m very pleased with the move. They’re a great bunch of guys,” Arnold said.
The 20-year-old Calgary native played for the Heritage Junior ‘B’ Hockey League in Alberta, as well as the Texas Tornados of the North American Hockey League, before joining the Yellow Jackets at the beginning of this season.
“I’m just hoping to bring some toughness and a hard-hitting presence to this team,” Arnold said.
Strachan said Arnold may be the final piece the Thunder needs catch the first-place Dryden Ice Dogs (16-8-7)—who sit just one point ahead in the Superior International Junior Hockey League standings.
“We have 20 guys plus two affiliates [Kris Esselink and Tyler Barker],” Strachan noted. “A little mixture of everything. We’re pleased with all the moves in the last month.”
Meanwhile, in the last month, the Bulldogs have signed Keith Anderson from the Manitoba Junior Hockey League and former Thunder Bay Snowplowing Wolves captain Paul Gossman.
But their top line of Tyler Bruno, Brian Dzijack, and Trevor Karasiewicz continues to be the Bulldogs’ main offensive threat—having combined for more than a third of the team’s goals this season.
“They’re our top line, but we know you can’t win consistently with one line,” said Vescio. “You have to have contributions from other lines.”
The puck drops Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Ice for Kids Arena. Tickets cost $7 for adults and $5 for students/seniors.