Thunder looking for championship redemption against the Hilltops

 

It’s a game that has been a year in the making for the Regina Thunder.

Today, the Thunder will host their provincial rival the Saskatoon Hilltops in the PFC Finals, with a 1:00 kickoff.

Last season, Regina went undefeated in the regular season before losing to the Hilltops in the league championship.

In 2022, the Thunder have repeated their regular season efforts, going undefeated in the regular season. Last Sunday, they defeated the Winnipeg Rifles in PFC Semi-Final setting up a rematch against the Hilltops, who advance after they defeated the Edmonton Huskies.

Earlier this week, offensive coordinator Stefan Endsin joined Michael Ball on the SportsCage to preview the championship rematch.

Looking back at the Thunder win over the Rifles, Endsin, pointed out the efforts of running back Ryland Leichert, who established a new record with carries (45) and 390 yards rushing against Winnipeg, saying the running back was in the zone last Sunday.

“It was impressive from run number one, obviously weather was an issue, he had a 15 yard run where he just finished , he finished their safety pretty good, he ran right through him, we thought ok, we got to roll with this, I didn’t know we would roll that many times.”

He added

“When a guy is going in a playoff game, it’s hard to take him out.”

In the Thunder’s victory over the Hilltops at Mosaic Stadium earlier this season, it was their passing game that fueled their offence. Endsin says he doesn’t mind relying on the running game though if it leads them to victory.

“All I care about is winning, we’ve been apart of too many times we’re at the end of the year  and we’re sitting in the PFC Finals, and we maybe don’t get where we want.”

He has prided on the fact that the Thunder have been able to maintain a balanced with a mix of passing and running attacks.

Sunday’s game will be the third time the two teams have met this season. The Thunder pulled out a thrilling come from behind victory in Saskatoon which was followed up by a dominating victory the following week in the Queen City.

Looking back at last year’s loss, Walking off the field with receiver Rylan Sokul following the game was a very difficult moment for the Thunder offensive coordinator.

“It was one of the hardest moments when we didn’t finish against Saskatoon, I don’t think anybody wants to feel that again.”

After failing to capitalize on home field advantage last season, Endsin knows it will be a tough task for the Thunder to make sure that history doesn’t repeat.

“It is the biggest rivalry we play in, we know all those guys, they know us, it’s physical.”

He continued.

“Trust me, we do not underestimate them we know that they can play, they don’t underestimate us, it’s going to be a physical game, with two teams that can play defence, that can run the ball, and just want it. I can’t wait.”

The winner of today’s game will receive a bye into the Canadian Bowl, where they will participate as the host on Saturday, November 12 against the Okanagan Sun.

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