LIGHTNING BOLTS’ SHOTS:
After playing 12-consecutive games away from their home ice and Evansville’s Swonder Ice Arena, the ThunderBolts returned home for their first appearance in front of their fond, faithful following of fans for the first time in 55-days, rekindling antipathies with one of their principal Midwest Division archenemies in the form of the first place St. Louis Jr. Blues. After inaugurating their NA3HL elite junior hockey league debuting campaign with an extended six-game home stand from September 18th through October 4th, the ‘Bolts traveling party proceeded to perform their on-ice hockey exploits to the tune of playing 19 of their next 24- games in the climate of hostile territory. Evansville had not seen action at Swonder Ice Arena since way back on November 21st when they played host to the Atlanta Capitals. This past weekend, General Manager/Head Coach Scott Fankhouser’s young club broached an extended four-game home stand which will effectively complete their nine-game January schedule. In fact, the State of Indiana’s only elite junior hockey team has embarked on an ostensibly favorable game date slate consisting of 12 of the next 17-games at their own homestead.
Rekindling animosities with their nearby foes the first place St. Louis Jr. Blues the past weekend, the ‘Bolts, yet one more time, were gallant and valiant in defeat. In game one of the two-game series on Friday night, the 7-0 St. Louis triumph was not a true barometer of how this game transpired for the full 60- minutes. Evansville’s sextet played an outstanding game with nary a single puck bouncing or breaking their way. It marked the second consecutive game in the span of 10-days in which the high-voltage, high-powered Jr. Blues had extinguished Evansville by virtue of the shutout and the third time overall for the season the Gateway City squadron had accomplished the feat against the ThunderBolts. In the encore engagement on Saturday night, the ThunderBolts were game, gritty and full of gusto before ultimately falling short, 8-5. The true hometown team seized an early 1-0 lead on the first of two Brandon Rozema strikes before surmounting a 3-1 shortfall to equalize matters after 40- minutes, 3-3, on Rozema’s second strike of the night on the power play. However, it was the fateful final frame that ultimately told the tale of the tape as St. Louis erupted for five goals to complete the sweep of the weekend seriesand the 8-game season series for 2015-16. Team captain Jon Grimm did drill a pair of third stanza strikes while Mike Kelley caged a singleton. The ThunderBolts delivered 3-PPG despite digesting the disappointing defeat.