CARROT RIVER — The Carrot River Outback Thunder have looked to Tanner Dutcawich to produce points this season, but he has also proven to be an effective recruiter.
For the last few seasons, the Flin Flon product pursued his hockey career in the Birtle area of Manitoba. He went to high school with Miniota’s Ben Couvier. Dutcawich convinced his friend to give the Outback Thunder a try after the Junior B hockey team’s main camp was complete.
“He came out to a practice and right away Luke [Folk, the team’s head coach] said this kid can play at this level so we offered him a spot and he took it,” Outback Thunder general manager Brennan Hall said. “Ever since then, he’s been an integral part of our lineup each night.”
The Outback Thunder posted a 7-3 record in November. On the season the squad is 8-12-1 with 17 points in the Prairie Junior Hockey League standings. In less than 21 games, the team already surpassed its wins, six, and points total, 13, from last season.
Through 20 games this season, Couvier had four goals and nine points. He does not back down and leads the squad with 111 penalty minutes. Folk said that the 6-foot-3, 175-pounder “has been a physical presence since day one. It seems to come naturally to him and he’s starting to get rewarded for being in those tough areas muckin’ it up.”
“I’ve always liked to throw around the body and try and play a physical game style,” Couvier said.
Folk feels the best is yet to come for Couvier.
“He gains confidence each week – puck handling, footwork, positioning ... always improving, never slacking off,” the head coach said.
As well as offensive production and physical play, Couvier is important for the Outback Thunder’s chemistry.
“He’s a glue guy,” Folk said. “We’ve got a lot of glue guys, but none better than Couv.”
Couvier is having fun with the Outback Thunder.
“The thing I enjoy most playing in Carrot River is being around the teammates all the time,” he said.
Unlike many of his Outback Thunder teammates, Couvier joined the team after playing high school hockey. Last winter he helped the Hamiota Huskies capture the Westman High School Hockey League championship. The squad also placed second at the A/AA provincials.
The Thunder last week
Saturday, Nov. 30 in Carrot River
Carrot River 4, Saskatoon Westleys 1
Outback Thunder Scorers: Luc Marleau, Kaden Suski, David Wiens, Liam Hallett
Westleys Scorers: Colten Adair
Goalies: Justice Haack, Carrot River, 34 saves on 35 shots; Robbie Hufnagel, Saskatoon, 27 on 31
Notes: The Outback Thunder grabbed a 2-1 first period lead and extended it to 3-1 in the third. Marleau recorded three points.
Sunday, Dec. 1 in Saskatoon
Saskatoon Royals 4, Carrot River 2
Outback Thunder Scorers: Kaden Suski, Tanner Dutcawich
Royals Scorers: Damon Vanderlinde (2), Dylan Francis (2)
Goalies: Steven Soyko, Carrot River, 29 saves on 33 shots; Steig Zarry, Saskatoon, 28 on 30
Notes: The Royals led 1-0 and 3-0 at the intermissions. The Royals were two-for-six on the powerplay, while the Outback Thunder were one-for-six.
The Outback Thunder signed 18-year-old forward Hunter Rambow. The Pas product had three points in seven games with the Battlefords North Stars of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. He played one game with the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Waywayseecappo Wolverines.
The team got 18-year-old Triston Sorenson from Fort Knox for future considerations. The forward from Bienfait had two goals and three points in 16 games this season.
The Carrot River Outback Thunder (8-12-1) have three games in as many days this weekend. The Saskatoon Royals (11-9-0) are in town on Friday, while the Triple Seven Chrysler Storm (8-11-1) visit on Saturday. The team wraps up in the weekend in Prince Albert (8-10-3) on Sunday.