Borderland Thunder head coach Wayne Strachan said he and his coaches will focus attention on preparing the team for this weekend’s home games rather than their debacle Wednesday night in Dryden—an 8-3 smoking at the hands of the Ice Dogs.
The Thunder (5-2-2) will host the Northwest Wisconsin Knights Friday and Saturday night at the Memorial Sports Centre. Game time is 7:30 p.m. for both games.
“That’s the thing about hockey. We’ll clear the board,” said Strachan, whose team salvaged an 8-0 deficit after 40 minutes to outshoot the Ice Dogs by a wide margin in the third period.
“We’ll use the third period as a bit of a stepping stone for the weekend,” he noted.
The Thunder controlled play for the first 10 minutes but Dryden goalie Ryan McGillis stonewalled them at every turn.
The team soon fell into serious penalty problems as Ian Lockman took a five-minute infraction for roughing. To make matter worst, the Thunder took separate minor penalties to find themselves down 5-on-3 on two occasions.
And the Ice Dogs made them pay—getting two goals from Steve Roy and one from Jordan Sitar to close out the period.
Dryden continued the onslaught in the second period with five more goals—the first two chasing goalie Jason Flatt. He was replaced by Chris Cain.
The Thunder showed signs of life in the third as Ryan Gregnol scored 90 seconds in. Centre Kevin Webb then kept his nine-game points scoring streak intact with an unassisted tally at the 13-minute mark.
Josh Baxter then fed Boomer Redford to round out the scoring.
The Thunder pelted 21 shots at McGillis in the third period but were 0-8 on the power play.
“I think in the third period, we started to play our game and took it to them,” noted Strachan. “They showed a lot of positive things. When we work hard, we’re just as good as any team.”
Dryden’s victory vaulted them past the Feathermen Hawks (Thunder Bay) for first place in the Superior International Junior Hockey League with a 7-2-2 record. They’ll travel here next Tuesday for a rematch.
The Thunder were coming off 11-day break between games but Strachan didn’t want to use that as an excuse in the loss.
“We had a little break but we came back and worked hard. We worked on the system we needed to,” he said.
But Strachan also stressed the team will need to regroup to face a tough Wisconsin team here this weekend.
“The Knights are a good team, a fast team. They’re going to give us a big challenge and it will take a good effort on our part to get a couple of wins,” Strachan said.
Borderland won their only meeting so far with the Knights at the pre-season showcase tournament in Thunder Bay, where they scored a goal with 10 seconds to go to snap a 5-5.
Meanwhile, Thunder forwards Kyle Prystupa and Tyler Barker are out indefinitely with injuries.
Prystupa tore knee ligaments during their last home game against the Thunder Bay KC Bulldogs while Barker left Wednesday night’s game due to shoulder problems.