With everyone else getting their Christmas turkeys ready, the Borderland Thunder’s appetite is leaning more towards a serving of Hawks.
The SIJHL leaders take a three-game unbeaten streak into Thunder Bay for a showdown with the Feathermen Hawks on Saturday night and again Sunday afternoon.
The fifth-place Hawks (8-18-1-3), who trail the Thunder by 18 points in the standings, have lost nine of their last 10 games, although their last outing did produce a 2-1 win over the Thunder Bay Wolves on Dec. 10.
The Hawks’ have had a dangerous addiction to the penalty box so far this season, racking up a league-high 1,491 penalty minutes and leading the league in power-play goals allowed.
Conversely, the Thunder (568 in penalty minutes) have the lowest total in the league of teams that have played 25 games or more (the Northwest Wisconsin Knights have 480 PIM in 13 games).
The Hawks are led offensively by Travis Grant (13 goals/16 assists), who will count on teammates Brent Greene (10/11) and Jarris Blacksmith, the SIJHL’s third-leading scorer among defencemen (7/14), to help shoulder the load.
Meanwhile, Hawks goalie Chris Lauzon (8-10-1) is tied for second in the league in victories.
The Thunder’s Matt Johnston, who is sixth in league scoring (10 goals/27 assists), has been the team’s most consistent threat up front so far this season.
His efforts, combined with the likes of A.J. Tucker (11/16, and second in the league with six power-play goals) and team goal-scoring leader Kyle Prystupa (14/12), have the Thunder (16-4-4-1) solidly in first place—three points up on the Fort William Wolves (13-11-3-4) with six games in hand.
The Thunder, who had their game Wednesday night in Dryden against the Ice Dogs cancelled because Highway 502 was closed to due the weather, hope to have goalie Dan Hoehne back this weekend.
He was relegated to the backup role against the Thunder Bay KC Bulldogs here last weekend because of recurring headaches.
Hoehne (6-2) has been stellar since joining the team Oct. 30, and holds the league’s best save percentage (.905).
After this weekend’s action, Borderland will be off until Jan. 3-4, when they host the Thunder Bay KC Bulldogs at the Ice for Kids Arena.