CARROT RIVER — The Carrot River Outback Thunder were wheeling and dealing last week.
The team made several moves before the Jan. 10 national trade deadline to bolster its roster for the last two months of the Prairie Junior Hockey League regular season. The Junior B squad picked up two forwards, a defenceman and a goaltender.
On the ice last week, Carrot River went 1-1. The Outback Thunder fell to the Prince Albert Titans, 3-2, on Saturday, but rebounded to shut out the Saskatoon Westleys, 4-0, on Sunday. Steven Soyko earned the shutout with 31 saves. As of Sunday night, the team had an 11-18-1 record.
In 18-year-old forward Chase Gallant, the Outback Thunder added a player with what general manager Brennan Hall described as an elite resume. The Saskatoon product played midget AAA with Swift Current and the Saskatoon Contacts and completed two seasons at the bantam AA level. This season Gallant had earned a contributing role on the perennially strong Saskatoon Quakers in the PJHL. He had seven goals and 15 points in 24 games.
“He’s coming to us during his rookie season in the PJHL, as well as from the first-place team in our division where he was having success in a very deep lineup,” Hall said. “We’re excited to bring Chase on board and make a push for a playoff run and we believe he will help us in doing so.”
Gallant had a goal in his second game with the Outback Thunder. Carrot River obtained his rights for future considerations.
Also, up front, the team added 18-year-old Brandt Fiske. The La Ronge area product is a former teammate of several Outback Thunder players with the North East midget AA squad. Carrot River signed Fiske, who had two assists in 27 games for the 100 Mile House (B.C.) Wranglers of the Kootenay International Hockey League this season. He has also played eight games over the last two seasons for his hometown Ice Wolves of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
“Brandt is a hardworking, hard-hitting forward that’s going to bring a lot of energy to our lineup and that is something we believe will help us win games,” Hall said.
The Outback Thunder announced they had signed 18-year-old defenceman Austin Underwood. The team had acquired his rights earlier this season from the Saskatoon Westleys. Warman’s Underwood had a goal and an assist in eight games this season with the Westleys.
“Austin is also a rookie but has played a lot of good hockey throughout his career,” Hall said. “I personally had a chance to watch him during his minor career as he played with my brother in my hometown of Warman. So, I know what we’re exactly getting with Austin and I’m excited to see him out there in a Thunder jersey.”
The Outback Thunder picked up 18-year-old goalie Chance Griffith from the KIJHL’s Fernie Ghostriders for future considerations. The team is giving the Crossfield, Alta. product, who had a 2.92 goals against average with a .917 save percentage this season, time to decide if he wants to join it. Hall said Griffith will be welcomed with open arms, but the Outback Thunder understands and respect if he chooses not to come.
“If Chance reports, we will have three goaltenders here. If not, we still have our two that we are extremely happy with,” Hall said, referring to Justice Haack and Soyko. “Chance was acquired based on the space we had on our roster and the opportunity we could provide him.”
The Thunder last week
Saturday, Jan. 11 in Carrot River
Prince Albert 3, Carrot River 2
Outback Thunder Scorers: Luc Marleau, Tyler Almen
Titans Scorers: Dillan Saworski, Scott Tillmanns, Ben Zultok
Goalies: Steven Soyko, Carrot River, 20 saves on 23 shots; Carson Schewaga, Prince Albert, 41 on 43
Notes: After a scoreless first period, the Outback Thunder took a 2-1 second session lead. The Titans scored twice in the third to slip by Carrot River.
Sunday, Jan. 10 in Carrot River
Carrot River 4, Saskatoon Westleys 0
Outback Thunder Scorers: Luc Marleau (2), Kaden Suski, Chase Gallant
Goalies: Steven Soyko, Carrot River, 31 saves on 31 shots; Robbie Hufnagel, Saskatoon, 36 on 40
Notes: The Outback Thunder scored two goals in the second period and two more in the third. Gallant’s goal – his first with the Outback Thunder – came shorthanded.
The Outback Thunder (11-18-1) host the Delisle Chiefs (20-6-1) on Friday. On Sunday, the squad plays the Royals (14-13-1) in Saskatoon.