The Baltimore Thunder will begin its fifth season in the Major Indoor Lacrosse League on Dec. 29, playing the Detroit Turbos at the Baltimore Arena.
Thunder general manager Darrell Russell said he expects a sellout, not so much because Detroit will have the Gait brothers, Paul and Gary, but because the Thunder has the talent to win the MILL title, which has escaped it since the league's first season.
"I believe we will challenge for the championship," Russell said. "We have a lot of excellent new players, like Brian Kroneberger from Loyola [College and Calvert Hall] and Vince Angotti from Cornell [and McDonogh], and we have more depth than we have had the last several years."
The Thunder, which practices every Tuesday from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. at the Perring Athletic Club, defeated the defending MILL champion Philadelphia Wings, 22-8, in an exhibition before nearly 5,000 at Hersheypark Arena on Friday. John Nostrand scored six goals, and new goalie Jeff Gombar, from British Columbia, made 15 saves in the second half.
The Thunder, which was 4-4 a year ago and did not make the playoffs, will be in the American Division this year with the New York Saints and Philadelphia. The National Division will have Detroit, New England Blazers and Pittsburgh Bulls. Each team will play a 10-game schedule, with five home games.
The Thunder schedule: (all home games will be at the Baltimore Arena at 8 p.m.)
December -- 29, Detroit.
January -- 5, at Pittsburgh, 8 p.m.; 19, New England; 26, at New England, 8 p.m.
February -- 9, New York; 15, at New York, 8 p.m.; 23, at Detroit, 8 p.m.
March -- 2, Pittsburgh; 17, at Philadelphia, 1:30 p.m.; 23, Philadelphia.