Junior Thunder takes tournament

Cool customers . . . The Dunedin Thunder ice hockey team (from left) co-captain Morgan Blair, co-captain Oliver Linton, Levi Christos, manager Quentin Blair, Sam Power, Jack Lewis, Ian Audas, Hamish Ryall, coach Mike Byck, co-ordinator Rick Audas and (front) goalie Breane Byck won an international tournament held in Dunedin earlier this month. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Down 0-2 heading into the final 15 minutes, the odds looked to be against the Dunedin Junior Thunder ice hockey team.

Yet the team netted two goals to level the score and added another in extra time to win an international under-14 tournament at the Dunedin Ice Stadium earlier this month.

Team manager Quentin Blair said it was “pretty phenomenal” for the team to win, considering it had about half the number of players as the others.

The team is usually made up of under-15 age grade players, but about half had to be dropped for the under-14 tournament.

The rest were split into two Dunedin teams, so the tournament could have eight teams.

This left Junior Thunder with seven players and a goalie for the six-day tournament, after some players pulled out due to sickness and injury.

“We were already running quite a reduced team size.”

During the tournament, the team made it through to the semi-finals after only losing two of its six round-robin games.

It faced a Brisbane/Sydney team in the semi and won 5-3, having lost by the same score earlier in the week.

Skater Levi Christos scored a hat-trick to help secure the team a spot in the final against a Melbourne-based team, which had been the champion for the past three years.

Despite being down by two goals in the final with only 15 minutes to play, the Dunedin team “found another gear” to even the score before the end of regulation play.

The game went into overtime which meant the teams were down to three-on-three.

“About a minute and a-half into overtime we scored.

Ian Audas scored a hat-trick in the game and was named the team’s Most Valuable Player and goalie Breane Byck had the best save rate of the tournament.

Ollie Linton assisted five goals in one game during the round-robin, Hamish Ryall scored the winning goal in the semifinal and Jack Lewis was the second-highest scoring defenceman in the competition.

Sam Power played almost every position to cover and was the sixth highest New Zealand-based point scorer, and Morgan Blair scored four goals in a single game during the round-robin and was the second-highest New Zealand-based point scorer of the competition.