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Thunder Bay Chill Home at Last....

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Home at last

By David Trifunov - The Chronicle-Journal

March 01, 2005

For the first time in franchise history, the Thunder Bay Chill will start the regular season at home.

The 2005 Premier Development League soccer schedule was released on Monday by the team. It features 16 games — eight at home and eight on the road — for the side.

“It’s definitely a tough schedule,” coach Tony Colistro said.

Thunder Bay welcomes the Sioux Falls SpitFire on the June 3-4 opening weekend. Then the Chill hits the road for weekend series against the Des Moines Menace, Chicago Fire and Fort Wayne Fever before returning home for Canada Day weekend.

The Fever supplies the holiday competition for the home-and-home tilt and kicks off a four-game home stand for Thunder Bay.

After travelling to Sioux Falls on July 15-16, the Chill ends the schedule on July 22-23 against Chicago.

“Every game is going to be tough for us, for sure,” Colistro said. “The way I see it, every league game is important.”

Gone from the PDL’s Heartland Division is the perennial cellar dwelling Wisconsin Rebels. The team folded last year which takes away what have been some easy wins for Thunder Bay.

The travel this year will be as difficult as every one of the Chill’s past five seasons. Thunder Bay’s longest trip will be a 14-hour bus ride to Fort Wayne, Ind. The nearest trip is roughly 10 hours to Chicago, Des Moines, Iowa or Sioux Falls, S.D.

“I don’t think it really matters to us anymore,” the coach said.

The highlight of the year, Colistro adds, could be the friendlies on tap. The owner of the Boulder Rapids Reserve franchise was in Thunder Bay on Friday for the Chill’s annual fundraising dinner.

The teams are attempting to work out an arrangement that would see the Reserves, a team that has snatched the final playoff spot from the Chill in the past, finally play in Thunder Bay.

The Chill doesn’t face teams like Boulder, Kansas City and Colorado Springs due to travel constraints.

But Colistro is hoping to bring in some more exciting, playoff-type teams to Thunder Bay to condition the Chill for a tough regular season.

Stiff competition is exactly what Colistro says he wants. He doesn’t want to qualify for the post-season on good graces, it costs too much to lose quickly.

“I want to go there knowing we can beat these teams,” he said.

Frost-Bytes: The Chill was 11-7 last year and missed the playoffs. . . . Season tickets are now on sale ($50 by calling 623-5911). . . . Training camp is set to begin March 8 with 38 players asking for invitations. . . . TBayTel is returning for a sixth season as the team’s jersey sponsor.


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