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Dunedin Thunder coach Janos Kaszala is expecting his bolstered side to put up a much better showing when it takes on the Canterbury Red Devils in a second round of pre-season matches this weekend.
The Thunder was missing six front-line players when it went down 8-3 and 10-3 to the Southern Stampede in a double-header in Dunedin last weekend.
However, the side was due to welcome back defenders Regan Wilson and Ben Roth and forward Connor Harrison for the double-header in Christchurch today and tomorrow.
Roth and Harrison missed last weekend's matches due to injury, while Wilson is based in Oamaru and was unavailable due to work commitments.
The Thunder will still be missing defender David Ferrari, who is playing for the Newcastle North Stars in the Australian Ice Hockey League and will arrive in Dunedin on May 31, as well as United States import Brandon Conttrato, who is not due to arrive in the city until May 28.
First-choice goalie Daniel Lee has succumbed to a hip injury and is out for the season.
Kaszala said the Thunder was in talks with an overseas goalie to replace Lee and expected to announce a star signing soon.
In the meantime, it had backup goalies Hunter Waugh and Jon Barakauskas to call on, he said.
Kaszala was expecting an improved performance from his side this weekend as it prepared for its first competition game on June 4, also against the Red Devils.
"Our squad is going to be much stronger and we're looking for a much better outcome.''
The side has two more pre-season matches before the competition, against the Stampede in Queenstown on May 28 and 29.