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2014-05-24 at 22:17

Opening draw

By Leith Dunick,
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Pre-season friendlies are the time to work the kinks out.

The Thunder Bay Chill put on a steady, if not spectacular performance Saturday, but just couldn’t generate much on the attack.

Add in a late-game defensive lapse and the Chill walked away with a 1-1 tie against the Winnipeg Lions, a club team that used a clutch-and-grab approach to keep in step with their opponent.

It’s a great lesson to learn, said Chill captain Nolan Intermoia, a midfielder-turned-defender attempting to fill the vacancy left by the departure of Premier Development League all-star Axel Sjoberg.

“It’s always a little bit physical with this team,” Intermoia said.

“But that’s good because other teams aren’t going to be taking us lightly. We’re not going to be handed the trophy again or the season league champs. We need to go out there and work for it. So it’s a good eye-opener.”

It wasn’t the finish the Chill were looking for.

Leading 1-0 most of the way, riding a Vitor Huvas goal scored in the 10th minute of the evening contest played on the turf at Fort William Stadium, the Lions caught the Chill flat-footed with about 10 minutes left on the clock.

The Lions converted a three-on-one, Go Kumagai tapping it past Thunder Bay goalie Mitchell Thorn, who took over from starter Daniel Alvarado at the half.

“It was good to get everybody out. We needed to get a game. We’ve been training for two weeks. It’s better to make the mistakes now. Obviously (Winnipeg), they work hard and they put a little bit of pressure on us,” Intermoia said.

“They got a good goal. I’m not going to take anything away from them. We’ve got to be a little bit sharper, a little better in the midfield. But all around, everybody, including myself, we’ve got to take it upon ourselves to lift each other up and become better tomorrow.”

Chill coach Tony Colistro was glad to get a good look at all his players in game action.

He was happy with the team’s possession play, but was a little disappointed in the lack of scoring opportunities created.

“It was the first game, for a lot of these guys playing together. We trained hard the last couple of weeks, so tomorrow we’ll do better.”

It’s going to take a little time for the talent to start to gel – though their 14-game PDL season is slated to start next weekend in Winnipeg.

“It is what it is,” said Colistro, entering his 15th season as coach of the Chill. “Sometimes we’re successful in these preseason games. I’m not saying tonight wasn’t successful, but it was a tie. We made a mistake there at the end. But that’s what the players need … It’s the kind of game we wanted.”

The Chill and Lions will play a rematch Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.

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