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Thunder in running for league awards

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A contingent of Borderland Thunder players stand a good chance at taking home some hardware this weekend.

The team has seven nominees in the running for six trophies the inaugural Superior International Junior Hockey League will hand out during a luncheon Saturday in Thunder Bay, SIJHL president Jerry Blazino said.

Leading the Thunder list of nominees are Rob Hrabec for goalie-of-the-Year and Wayne Strachan for coach-of-the-year.

Hrabec led the SIJHL in wins (16) and goals-against-average (2.48) while Strachan guided the team to a league-best 28-11-9 record in the regular season.

The other Thunder nominees, up for awards including Most Valuable Player, Most Gentlemanlike, and top rookie and defenceman, weren’t released.

Blazino also wouldn’t release the winners’ names but said local fans would be pleased with the results. The winners were chosen by a vote among the coaches and players

Bulldogs’ forward Trevor Karasiewicz, who led the league with 85 points (35 goals/50 assists), is the only sure bet to win the award as top scorer.

The luncheon will be a short break from the SIJHL’s all-day annual meetings, where they’ll discuss the prospects of expansion and several new changes.

The Feathermen Hawks, for instance, announced a move out of the Fort William First Nations last week to Nipigon.

And only one of the two Minnesota Junior Hockey League teams that played SIJHL exhibition schedules last season—the Northwest Wisconsin Knights—will be back next season.

Blazino said its “very unlikely” the Iron Range Yellow Jackets will return.

Blazino said the meetings will tie up some other loose ends. “All the teams had growing pains. As a league, we jumped a lot of hurdles this year,” he noted.

In related news, the league champion Dryden Ice Dogs and Feathermen Hawks are looking for new head coaches.

Dryden bench boss Larry Wintoneak moved to back to Saskatchewan to take a job with the La Ronge Ice Wolves while Todd Howarth’s contract with the Hawks was not renewed amid the recent shuffle there.

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