CARROT RIVER — The roster moves made by the Carrot River Outback Thunder earlier this month are paying off.
With all four recently added players in the lineup last Friday, the Outback Thunder knocked off the Delisle Chiefs, the No. 2 team in the Prairie Junior Hockey League’s Bob Dybvig Division, by a 5-2 score. On Sunday, Carrot River beat the Saskatoon Royals, 4-2, who sit a spot ahead of them in the division standings. With a three-game winning streak, the Outback Thunder improved their record to 13-18-1 and were fifth in the Bob Dybvig Division.
By the Jan. 10 trade deadline, the Outback Thunder added forwards Brandy Fiske and Chase Gallant, defenceman Austin Underwood, and goaltender Chance Griffith. All have contributed since joining the team, general manager Brennan Hall said.
“You mix all these guys in with the unbelievable core we already had... well, you stop the Chiefs right in their tracks,” Hall said. “We already had an amazing, talented core of guys here and now that we mix that all together, we look a lot different and we’re a lot more fun to watch. I’m excited to see what happens with this group over the next two months and so are they.”
Hall praised how the four newcomers have fit in with the team’s regulars. He said it was like the team was together all season.
“We knew we were getting good players when we made these deals and it’s showing not only in the locker room with the guys but on the ice as well,” Hall said.
Fiske, who knew several players prior to joining due to his time with the North East midget AA program, and Gallant recorded five and three points, respectively in their first four games with the team. Together with Tyler Almen, they have already formed a strong line – one which Hall believes is among the fastest in the PJHL.
The Outback GM said that Almen’s heads up play allows him to find the other two on the fly and makes them tough to defend against when they are breaking out or forechecking. Hall also stated that Fiske and Gallant are two-way forwards who contribute on both ends and can play on the penalty kill and powerplay.
Hall described Underwood as a calm defenceman who skates very well.
“He makes simple plays and he doesn’t try to rush a play, which usually ends up as turnovers,” Hall said. “He can kill penalties and he can move the puck. We needed a simple puck moving defenseman and that’s what we have with him and he fits right in our D-core perfectly.”
The Outback Thunder acquired Griffith, a Crossfield, Alta. product, from the Fernie Ghostriders, a B.C. Junior B squad.
“Chance played absolutely fantastic [Friday] making 32 saves on 34 stops in his first start in the PJHL against the second place Chiefs,” Hall said. “His athleticism is amazing. He’s very fast in his crease, he’s not afraid to challenge and his puck tracking and movement is top notch.”
On Saturday, Griffith picked up his second PJHL win. He made 33 saves against Saskatoon.
The Outback Thunder last week
Friday, Jan. 17 in Carrot River
Carrot River 5, Delisle 2
Outback Thunder Scorers: David Wiens, Chase Gallant, Tiston Sorenson, Tyrell Nicklen, Brandt Fiske
Chiefs Scorers: Dayden Dvernichuk, Luke Stadnyk
Goalies: Chance Griffith, Carrot River, 32 saves on 34 shots; Tyler Peterson, Delisle, 30 on 35
Notes: Griffith earned the win in his first game with the team. Regulars Liam Hallett, Tyer Almen and Nicklen all had two points.
Sunday, Jan. 19 in Saskatoon
Carrot River 4, Saskatoon 2
Outback Thunder Scorers: Brandt Fiske (2), Triston Sorenson, Tyrell Nicklen
Royals Scorers: Damon Vanderlinde, Tyson Schroeder
Goalies: Chance Griffith, Carrot River, 33 saves on 35 shots; Dawson Cochrane, Saskatoon, 31 on 35
Notes: The Outback Thunder trailed 1-0 and 2-1 at the intermissions. In the third, Carrot River tied things up on a powerplay goal by Nicklen and went ahead on Sorenson’s goal. On a powerplay, Fiske added his second of the night to make the final, 4-2. Carrot River’s Luc Marleau recorded two assists.
The Carrot River Outback Thunder (13-18-1) have a trio of road games this week. Things get started in Saskatoon on Thursday against the Quakers (26-3-1). On Friday, the squad takes on Fort Knox (23-7-2). The trip wraps up on Saturday against the Regina Silver Foxes (6-23-0).