Thunder forward Zach Simpson, center, is hooked by Boston Junior Bruins defender Stephen Thomas as Bruins goalie Greg Iverson makes a save Friday night at Norway Savings Bank Arena. (Submitted photo)

AUBURN — The Twin City Thunder couldn’t have played any better than they did in the third period in their franchise opener Friday night at the Norway Savings Bank Arena.

But Greg Iverson crashed the party, which was attended by 730 fans. The Boston Junior Bruins goalie made 11 of his 23 saves in the final 20 minutes in a 4-1 junior hockey victory.

Midway through the third period, the Thunder peppered Iverson including a couple of breakaway opportunities. The best one came on a 2-on-0, but Iverson stopped Thunder forward Derrick Trudeau’s stop.

“If that 2-on-0 goes in, we tighten up on the bench and anything can happen,” Bruins coach Nevin Hamilton said. “That’s a huge save right there, and that’s what goalies are suppose to do. You have to make four or five grade-A (saves) to keep the team in it. We responded for him shortly there, after that.”

Later on in the period, Nick Malik hit the crossbar clean. It was the last grade-A scoring chance for the Thunder.

Advertisement

“Zach Desmarais said in the locker room afterwards, ‘Hey, a couple of bounces we could have been tied or ahead,'” Thunder coach Doug Friedman said. “That’s a positive to take out of this, is the guys didn’t quit. That’s a real testament to their character. I am excited to see how this team grows.”

Friedman talked to general manager Ben Gray after the game, and told him Friday’s game was a good baseline going forward and said he expects the Thunder to play better as the season goes along.

Bryce Chaput put the exclamation point on the victory with a wrap-around goal with 2:25 remaining in the contest. Hunter Hall then scored an empty netter with 1:40 remaining in the game.

After 10 minutes of the teams getting their legs underneath them, play started to pick up in the second half of the first period. The Thunder struck first when Bailey Riddle’s shot went across the crease and Desmarais jammed home the loose puck with 5:53 remaining in the period.

“It felt great, we had a great crowd as well,” Desmarais said. “Seeing them getting excited for that goal was even more special. Obviously, we wanted to get a lot more than that tonight, but that’s hockey, sometimes. You gotta take some losses and gotta come back the next day even harder.”

The two teams meet again Saturday at 4:30 p.m. in Marlborough, Massachusetts.

Advertisement

The celebration of the Thunder’s first goal in franchise history was short-lived because 22 seconds later Rowan Barnes found Stephen Thompson in the slot, and his shot dipped past Thunder keeper Derek Fournier.

“My boys had to be a little patient for a couple of minutes, and then we turned it on after that lucky bounce,” Hamilton said. “From there on I thought we did a good job on the forecheck and blocked a lot of shots for our goalie. He had to be very good when he had to be.”

The Junior Bruins kept the momentum going in the second period, but Fournier kept Twin City in the game. He made two point-blank saves with 12:30 remaining in the middle frame.

“I was trying to keep us in it. With bang-bang plays you gotta throw yourself in front of the puck and hope for the best, really,” Fournier said. “That’s all I did.”

Steven Irick broke the 1-1 deadlock as he gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead off a Chaput assist with 3:36 remaining in the second stanza.

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: