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‘Thunder’ storming into training camp

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More than 60 skaters and eight goalies have been invited to the Borderland Thunder’s first-ever tryout camp here Aug. 3-5 in preparation for the team’s inaugural season in the new Superior International Junior Hockey League.

A team of 25 will be selected to start the Junior ‘A’ (Tier II) season in September.

Thunder general manager Brent Tookenay said scouts Brian Kozak of Kenora and Kevin Berube of Sioux Lookout, along with the coaching staff, have been meeting with players from here and around the region in putting together a diverse tryout camp.

Twelve players from Kenora will make the trip here. But Tookenay added close to half of those on hand will be from this area.

“We hope to have as much local talent as possible but we’re also looking to be a competitive team,” he reasoned.

The main purpose of the camp is for Thunder assistant coaches Shane Bliss and Wayne Strachan to get a look at the players on the ice in a non-direct manner, he added.

As such, some of Tookenay’s junior hockey contacts will be running the majority of the on-ice drills and scrimmages.

It’s a been a busy summer for the team. After falling behind on jersey and T-shirt production and scheduling last month, it is now taking names at Skates and Blades for anyone interested in season ticket information.

Tookenay admitted the middle of summer won’t generate a lot of interest for the team from the general public here just yet but the on-ice interest has remained keen.

“Obviously, it’s summer and most kids don’t have hockey on the mind,” he said. “[But] they’ve been very good keeping in touch with us.”

Tookenay said several players already have been signed but preferred not to disclose their names until after the tryout camp.

“We were thinking of announcing it but we didn’t want to affect the camp in any way,” he stressed. “It’s not good practice to do that.”

The SIJHL, a seven-team regional league, officially announced its inception last February. The first tournament is set for Sept. 14-16 in Thunder Bay.

If there are any players aged 16-19 who have not heard back from the team, or are just interested in trying out, Tookenay said they should call him at 274-0536 or team president Shawn Jourdain at 274-1223.

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