THUNDER BAY -- There were times the Thunder Bay Chill appeared to be sleepwalking during the first two weekends of the regular season.
The reigning Premier Development League finalists are wide awake now, their captain insists.
The Chill hit their gear offensively, scoring a 3-1 victory over the previously undefeated Des Moines Menace at Chapples Park on Friday evening.
“I think last weekend was a wakeup call for us…We know what it’s going to take and we’re just going to have to work together and I think that’s what we did (Friday). I think all 11 guys worked as 11,” said captain and veteran defender Nolan Intermoia, who scored the team’s second goal on a penalty kick.
“We knew with Des Moines coming in it would be a tough challenge. We needed the three points. We’re at home and there are no excuses.”
The Menace (3-1-0) entered the game victorious in each of their first three regular season matches and had yet to concede a goal.
That might have suggested an unfavourable outcome for the Chill (3-2-0), who had struggled to find results up front, mustering only two goals in last weekend’s disappointing two-game split against the St. Louis Lions and Springfield Demize.
The tables were turned in this one, which Thunder Bay head coach Tony Colistro sees as a sign that his collection of many new faces is beginning to form an identity.
“When you have players that are technically strong the offence will happen,” Colistro said. “It’s just about getting them to jell together and work defensively together.”
It was on the defensive side of the ball where Thunder Bay set the tone in the opening 45 minutes.
The Chill backline appeared to be in vintage form, holding Des Moines to a single shot in the first half.
Coming in the wake of defensive breakdowns costing the team points earlier in the season, the strong showing was a welcome sight.
The club had spent much of week leading up to the crucial series tightening up the back lines of their unit. Practices focused on defenders keeping shape and maintaining proper coverage.
“We played very disciplined and tried to limit their good opportunities,” Intermoia said. “I think that helped create our chances up front and our game plan all week was, when things aren’t going right we have to work on our defence and that keeps us in the game.”
That defensive effort protected an early lead after the Chill drew first blood in the 13th minute. Striker Ivan Argos Ocerin launched a strike off the framework that barely crossed the goal line for his third goal in as many regular season appearances.
Colistro describes Argos Ocerin as a “true striker.”
“He’s always a dangerous player. He’s a man of opportunity,” Colistro said. “Sometimes he just manages to find himself in the right spot with a clear shot and he makes great runs forward.”
That lead was carried into the locker rooms at halftime but Des Moines had an opportunity to draw even.
The Menace attackers had the Thunder Bay defence under pressure, leading to Ralph Lundy getting a clear look at the net from within 10 yards but he rolled his try wide.
That miss proved costly as the lead was expanded in the 70th minute.
Hard work and persistence by Gavin Hoy at the side of the penalty area paid off as he was fouled, leading to a penalty kick.
Intermoia stepped up and drilled a rocket into the upper left corner of the net past Menace keeper David Meves.
The insurance was something the team had been lacking for much of the campaign.
“When you’ve got the team right where you want them you want to go for the kill,” Intermoia said.
“We didn’t stop pressing. The forwards did a really good job putting pressure on their centre backs and we just moved as a unit.”
Making his regular season debut, striker Simon Cote-Kougnima added the icing on the cake in the 85th minute, converting on a lateral cross by Argos Ocerin.
Chris Hellman spoiled the clean sheet bid by Chill keeper Daniel Alvarado, scoring on a penalty kick during injury time.
Pitch marks: Hoy was substituted out of the game after the foul with a lower body injury…The Chill improve to 16-6-4 all-time against Des Moines…St. Louis (3-1-2) leads the Heartland Division by two points over both Des Moines and Thunder Bay, but the Menace have two games in hand and the Chill have one…The two teams will face off in a rematch on Saturday. The opening kick is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Chapples Park.
Click here to report a typo or error
You must log in to add comments.
Create a new account
Remember me next time.