The Borderland Thunder have been practising regularly at the Ice for Kids Arena in preparation for their first on-ice competition—a pre-season tournament in Thunder Bay this weekend.
All seven Superior International Junior Hockey League teams will compete in the round-robin event. The Thunder will play two games on Friday and Saturday, with the top two squads facing off in a one-game final Sunday.
The Thunder will kick off the inaugural SIJHL regular season Sept. 28 in Thunder Bay, with their home-opener set for Oct. 12.
But the team suffered a loss of sorts last week. Thunder general manager Brent Tookenay said standout Muskie hockey and football player Kris Esselink, who had signed with the team, opted not to play hockey and instead has returned to the ‘A’ football team.
“Kris did what he had to do and we respect that,” said Tookenay.
This leaves 18 players signed to the Thunder roster. Twenty-five will be making the trip to Thunder Bay and from there the final roster should be settled.
“After this weekend, we’ll have a better idea of how the team will shape up,” said Thunder assistant coach Sean Taggart.
In related news, Neil Cooper officially has joined the Thunder coaching staff as a goalie advisor.
Cooper, a former Muskie goalie and who played college hockey at Bemidji State, will join head coach Wayne Strachan and assistants Shane Bliss and Taggart.