LIGHTNING BOLTS’ SHOTS:
The Evansville ThunderBolts continue to attain great improvement with each passing week and each passing game with each of their NA3HL contests becoming more and more intense and competitive. Under the guidance of General Manager/Head Coach Scott Fankhouser, the State of Indiana’s only elite junior hockey team has achieved many major quantum leaps over the past month. To both elaborate and enumerate on the ThunderBolts best progressive steps made yet thus far this season, the Evansville contingent has seen two of its last three games; three of its last five games; four of their last eight games and five of their last 11-games determined by a scant single goal margin. Another clear measuring yardstick of the club’s growing and maturing progress has been its ability to earn leads in the most recent games. At one time, this particular accomplishment ostensibly seemed out of its realm to the point of being prohibitive. With the lion’s share of the 2015-16 NA3HL game schedule still straight ahead, there has evolved a true sense of optimism and confidence within the organization that better, more successful days are looming on the next nearest horizon.
NEXT ON THE ROAD SHOW:
This weekend, the ThunderBolts journey to Peoria, IL where they will rekindle enmities with their Midwest Division rivals, the Peoria Mustangs. The two-games’ series is set for this Saturday afternoon at 3:45 pm with the encore encounter on the date slate for a Sunday matinee affair at 1:15 pm. Both games, as all ThunderBolts games, home and away, are broadcast live on Evansville’s WVHI-AM 1330. Saturday’s game broadcast commences at 3:15 pm while Sunday’s broadcast begins at 12:45 pm. Though having posted a 4(0-4-0) record against the Peorians, the ‘Bolts have competed kinetically against the rugged, ruffian Mustangs as two of the four duels have resulted in minuscule one-goal margins with two more bouts nearly as razor close. Evansville will arrive on the Peoria scene confronting s Mustangs aggregation nation which is riding the rising rapids of a season’s best 6-game win streak.
NA3HL SHOWCASE EVENT:
Peaking ahead to the remainder of the ThunderBolts pre-Christmas holiday slate, following their upcoming weekend series in Peoria, the elite junior club will continue its travels for the month of December when they make the long excursion to Blaine, Minnesota for the NA3HL’s Annual Showcase Event, December 16 – 19. Evansville will be facing a rigorous regimen consisting of three games in three days at the neutral site. Thursday, December 17th, the ThunderBolts will lock horns with the Lacrosse Freeze; Friday, December 18th, it will be the ‘Bolts clashing with the Gillette Wild; Saturday, December 19th, the Minnesota Fighting Aces will test with the ThunderBolts. All three games will be broadcast on WVHI-AM 1330. The broadcast times will be 12:30 pm on December 17th; 2:30 pm December 18th and 3:15 pm on December 19th.
FICKLE FINGER OF FATE:
The past weekend, once again, the ThunderBolts, perhaps, earned a far better fate and destiny in a pair of collisions against inter-divisional adversary Point Mallard. Evansville was not to be intimidated by one of the league’s premiere powers as GM/Coach Fankhouser’s hard-working cast of young juniors forced the high-tech, high-octane “Quack Attack” to perform some masterful and magical third period heroics and histrionics to claim the conquests in two fiercely-competitive and compelling contests. In game one Friday night, the ‘Bolts of Evansville’s finest gained 2-0 and 3-1 leads after the first two periods only to fall prey in the fateful final frame from a ferocious 4-goal flurry fomented by the Ducks in a 5-3 outcome. It marked the initial two times thus far this season that the ThunderBolts had achieved the leads when the period had ended. Saturday night, it almost appeared as if a duplicate script had been scribed as, again, the foreign ice invaders from the heart of Southwestern Indiana gained a 2-1 second stanza advantage only to be overtaken, again, by another 4-goal third period rally in a 6-3 ultimate result.
THE NEW YEAR AT HOME:
In the midst of a strenuous stretch comprised of 11-consecutive games in the hostile territory of foreign ice, the ThunderBolts will return home to the friendly climes and environs of Evansville’s Swonder Ice Arena in the early New Year of 2016. The ‘Bolts will renew hostilities with the first place St. Louis Jr. Blues, Friday, January 15th and Saturday, January 16th. Both games are set for 7:30 pm opening face-offs. There are 11-home games remaining on the ThunderBolts maiden voyage schedule; 5 of those dates are on Friday nights with the other 6-dates on the docket for Saturday nights.
FIRSTS FOR ‘BOLTS:
The past weekend at Point Mallard in Decatur, Alabama, the ThunderBolts attained more noteworthy firsts in the overall growth and maturation of the novitiate franchise. On Friday night, for the first time ever, they earned game leads at the end of a period. It was 1-0 for the “good guys” after the first period and later, 2-0 and 3-1 following two periods. That same night also marked the first time ever in which the ThunderBolts had carved-out two-goal leads in a single game. Then on Saturday night, the ‘Bolts seized a 2-1 advantage, eradicating a 1-0 shortfall in the process. In the same game, the local standout, center Zach Faith delivered his first goal of the campaign for his Evansville squadron.
FAITH FIRES FIRST:
Center Zach Faith has been waiting a long time, ostensibly an eternity to not only return to his team’s lineup but also to make connection on his first-ever goal wearing the ‘Bolts coat of arms. The local product from Newburgh reached the pinnacle of promise on both fronts the past weekend in Alabama. Marked absent for a total of 10-games due to a concussion which he sustained back on October 11th at Peoria, the stellar centerman delivered that first goal Saturday night on a scintillating power play strike after actually recording his first point of the campaign one night earlier on line-mate Billy Bonser’s snipe. Centering the club’s #2 unit with Brandon Rozema and Bonser on his flanks, Faith was the supreme catalyst, sparking his line to the tune of producing one key, crucial goal in each game at Point Mallard. For the weekend: Faith 2(1-1-2); Rozema 2(0-2-2); Bonser 2(1-0-1).
AWESOME THEN-SOME 3-SOME:
The ThunderBolts highly-touted, vaunted “K – G – B” line of Mike Kelley, Jon Grimm and Brandon Bornkamp continues to flourish in fulminating fashion. Registering 4 of their team’s 6-goals the past weekend at Point Mallard, the awesome and then-some threesome has continued its climb to the apex of point-producing prowess in the NA3HL. For the weekend; Bornkamp 2(1-3-4); Grimm 2(1-3-4); Kelley 2(1-2-3). The tremendous trio are now ranked 1-2-3 in the ThunderBolts individual scoring derby.
POWER PLAY PRECISION:
At uneven strength through the power play, the ‘Bolts have excelled expertly and enterprisingly. Saturday night, the power plant percolation was fructifying yet one more time. In connecting twice on its initial three advantages, the extra man band was directly responsible for the ‘Bolts capturing of a 2-1 second period lead. The ThunderBolts power play is presently 5 for the last 12; 41.7% and 11 for the last 35; 31.4%. For the entire season, it has surged augustly and majestically to 11th in the league at 17-84; 20.3% proficiency rating.
SCORING STREAKS STANDOUTS:
Brandon Bornkamp has equaled his and the ‘Bolts longest point-scoring streak of the current season at 6-games; last 6(5-5-10); last 11-games; 11(11-7-18); Jon Grimm last 3-games; 3(3-6-9); last 8(6-8-14); Mike Kelley last 4(2-6-8); last 5(3-6-9); last 9(3-10-13); Triston Theriot last 8(1-7-8). Zach Faith last 2(1-1-2); Brandon Rozema last 2(0-2-2).
The ThunderBolts team leading scoring aces: 1- Brandon Bornkamp 20 (17-12-29); 2- Jon Grimm 20 ( 9-16-25); 3- Mike Kelley 15(5-11-16); 4- Triston Theriot 20(3-10-13); 5- Billy Bonser 17(6-4-10); 6- Brandon Rozema 17(2-3-5) 7- Scott Jacobson 15(2-3-5); 8- Brian Crink 20 ( 1-4-5).
HOMEGROWN TEAM: With the recent acquisition of Indianapolis native, defenseman Ben Baker, the ThunderBolts can now boast a roster content comprised of no fewer than 11-homegrown hockey players from the State of Indiana. Those 11-homegrown hockey future stars are: goaltenders Adam Conkling and Bryson Linenburg. Defensemen Ben Baker, Brian Crink, Nick Luke and Triston Theriot. Forwards Brandon Bornkamp, Zach Faith, Jon Grimm, Austin Hayden and Mike Kelley.
FEW FUN FAST FACTS FROM “FIC;”
The ThunderBolts are now 6(0-6-0) in 1-goal decisions with 6 of their last 14-games decided in such fashion. ‘Bolts have scored the FG in only 3 of 20-games this season. ‘Bolts outscored in third period over the weekend at Point Mallard, 8-1. Adam Conkling has made 8-straight starts in the ‘Bolts goal, having played all but 20-minutes since October 24th. Conkling leads the league in saves with 631. Five times this season, Conkling has made 54 or more saves in a single game. Brandon Bornkamp is the lone ‘Bolts plus player on the road at +3. The ‘Bolts 38-SOG Saturday night represented their third most in a single game this season. Seven times this season, the ‘Bolts have allowed over 60-SOGA in one game; 3 of those 7 against Point Mallard. Evansville has generated multiple PPG in 4-games this season. ‘Bolts have been outscored, 2-0 in 4-on-4 situations this season. Mike Kelley is currently on the club’s longest assist streak of the season at 4-games; 4(2-6-8).
THE THUNDERBOLTS RADIO UPDATE:
ThunderBolts fans can stay up to date everyday even when there is not a game. It’s “The ThunderBolts Hockey Update,” Monday through Friday at 5:00 pm on flagship radio home WVHI-AM 1330 and at 2:30 pm on WEOA-AM 1400 and WEOA-FM Magic 98.5.