Butte trio heads to Dallas with Thunderblades

Three local hockey players will be taking their game to the bigtime this week.

Carson Barry, Cade Insko and Carston Quam will compete for the Montana Thunderblades at the USA Hockey 2017 National Championships in Dallas.

The Thunderblades open the Tier-II U-16 tournament Thursday against the Nevada Storm. The tournament will be played in the Dr. Pepper StarCenter in Frisco, Texas. That is the practice home of the NHL’s Dallas Stars.

“It’s not the main arena, but there was a Wayne Gretzky camp in the same arena where we play,” Quam, a forward for the Thunderblades, said before the Thunderblades practiced Saturday at the Butte Community Ice Center.

Quam, 15, played on the Thunderblades’ U-14 team, which claimed the bronze medal at the national tournament in North Carolina last year. Insko, 16, and Barry, 14, are in their first season playing for the Thunderblades, though Insko played for the Montana Badgers in a national tournament last year in Salt Lake City.

Quam is a sophomore at Butte High, and Insko is a sophomore at Butte Central. Barry, the youngest player on the team, is an eighth grader at East Middle School.

“I’m excited,” Barry, a wing, said of playing at nationals.

The Montana boys open against a team they have some familiarity with.

“The first team we play, the Nevada Storm, we’ve played them a few times this year,” Insko, a defenseman, said.

The Thunderblades beat the Storm in a tournament in their last meeting.

Following Thursday’s opener, the Thunderblades will play the Delaware Ducks on Friday and the Nebraska Selects on Saturday.

Sunday and Monday play depends on how the first three games. The Thunderblades head south confident in the chances to be playing in Monday’s title game.

“We’ve got a really good chance of winning this year,” Quam said. “We’re a lot better than we were in past years.”