SPOONER, Wis. – A Joel Willan goal 57 seconds into overtime was the difference as the Thunder Bay North Stars spoiled the Superior International Junior Hockey League debut of the Wisconsin Lumberjacks Friday with a 4-3 victory at the Spooner Civic Center.
It didn’t take the hometown crowd to get to their feet as Lukas Lundgren needed just 35 seconds to collect the franchise’s first-ever goal as he quickly fired a shot that beat Thunder Bay starter Dougie Newhouse.
The North Stars power play helped them tie things up as Jacob Anttonen collected the equalizer at 11:34.
Nikolas Campbell then notched his first league tally, five minutes later, to give the guests a 2-1 lead after one period of play.
Each side would connect once in the second stanza as Dalton Garcia picked up his first in the SIJHL for Wisconsin early before Antonnen added another on the man advantage to put the North Stars back on top.
Third period play saw Cameron Birkeland force OT as he leveled the proceedings midway through the session.
In OT, the home side had a couple of quick chances to end it, but Thunder Bay countered with Willan burying the game-winner to give the defending SIJHL champions the opening-night triumph.
Shots on goal in the tightly-played affair finished up 21-20 in favour of the North Stars with Newhouse picking up the win while Nathan Mueller helped the Lumberjacks earn their first point in league play.
The two teams will meet again Saturday at 7:45 p.m. back in Spooner.
Photo credit: Gary Moskalyk