The Fort William First Nation North Stars will be in town tonight and tomorrow for what is a pivotal series for the Borderland Thunder.
It’s been more than a week since the Thunder last took to the ice, with a 4-1 loss to the Dryden Ice Dogs up there Jan. 26 being their freshest memory.
The squad is just 3-3-2 since the holiday break, leaving them with a 24-7-3 record overall and in second place behind the league-leading North Stars.
“Hockey is a game that you have to rely on other people in all facets and right now we’re just not working hard enough, we’re not working smart enough, and we’re not helping each other enough to beat anyone in this league,” said Thunder head coach Dave Allison.
The North Stars come into the weekend series—their last trip here during the regular season—with an impressive 31-1-2 mark (with the loss and both ties against the Thunder).
“We got to skate. Do some execution drills to get that shot, go for that rebound, and bury the puck,” said Thunder defenceman Kurt Hogard. “If we come out flat, they are just going to kill us.”
The two teams clashed here in late January, which resulted in a 0-0 tie and a 4-0 Thunder loss.
In a season that saw the team go undefeated in their first 12 games, the Thunder have not been able to generate that same offensive production of late.
“We really can’t get any worse then how we’re playing right now,” said forward Morgan Cekalla. “We really need to get the whole team aspect than just playing as individuals like we’re playing right now.”
“Everyone’s got to step up, especially our veterans,” he stressed. “All of those guys were getting huge numbers at the beginning of the year and now they’re kind of struggling.
“They’ve got to step up and take us rookies along with them.”
The puck drops for both games for 7:30 p.m. at the Ice for Kids Arena. Admission is $8 for adults and $7 for students.
Aaron Boyer is leading the Thunder with 39 points (15 goals and 24 assists) in 33 games while Josh McAndrew is next with 32 (11 goals and 21 assists) in 29.
Dennis Morrison with 30 points (15 goals and 15 assists) in 32 games, followed by Hogard with 28 (five goals and 23 assists) in 32 and Tyler Barker with 27 (13 goals and 14 assists) in 34.
Tyler Gordon sports a 15-5-3 record between the pipes, including a Canada Junior Hockey League-leading six shutouts. Newcomer Kevin Kauk is 3-1 so far in goal.