SIJHL Week 22 Review

By Gary Moskalyk

Wisconsin 0 at Thunder Bay 5 Tuesday

EJ Paddington pushed his season haul to 29 with a pair of goals and Ben Laurette secured his first SIJHL shutout making 24 saves as the Thunder Bay North Stars skated to a 5-0 win over visiting Wisconsin.

The Stars gained a share a first place with Kam River with their 63rd point. Kam River has four games in hand and play their next five games against last-place Kenora.

Connor Larrett’s re-direct on a Matthew Beazley point shot got the Stars on the board midway through the first. Beazley’s point shot wrister beat Wisconsin’s William Forrester under the bar at 18:44 to double the lead at 18:44. It was Beazley’s first goal of the year.

Thunder Bay scored two in the second. Alex Remenda shoveled in his second attempt from point blank range to up the score to 3-0. Paddington, who had a number of good looks throughout the game, picked the corner from a sharp angle at 10:47 to put a stranglehold on the game.

Paddington scored from the slot at 1:41 of the third to round out the scoring. 

Beazley and Remenda had two points each, Edison Weeks hit 70 points on the year with two assists, and Easton Mikus also had two helpers.

Thunder Bay outshot Wisconsin 64-24, showing no ill effects from playing their fourth game in five days. Forrester was stellar in the Wisconsin net, making 59 saves.  Forward Boston Beltz made his SIJHL debut for Wisconsin.

Wisconsin was 0-2 on the powerplay while Thunder Bay had no powerplay chances in a cleanly played game. The Stars took three minor penalties to the Lumberjacks’ one.  

Kenora 1 at Kam River 11 Friday

The Kam River Walleye in conjunction with Warrior Supply wore special jerseys on The Warrior Walleye Orange Wave Indigenous Night in support of The Fort Hope Emergency fund and the Walleye Warrior Indigenous Scholarship on Friday night.

“There is no reconciliation without education and when we have nights like this where I’m afforded an opportunity by Jason (Thompson), and some of other guests, to share our culture and our respect of this place called Turtle Island where we live together, good things really can happen,” said Vern Ray, Sr. Hockey Operations Advisor for the Fighting Walleye.

Thompson, Owner of Warrior Supply, and 18 generous business partnered in the event. The RBC Pre Game Ceremony featured a traditional Smudging of Norwest Arena and the players, and the singing of The Eagle Song.

Orange Wave Rally Towels were given to the first 500 fans through the door. The jerseys and three special edition team signed sticks were auctioned off.

In the game that followed, the first of five in a row between Kam River and the expansion Kenora Devil’s Gap Islanders, 12 Walleye players had two points or more in an 11-1 romp over Kenora. 

Daxton Lang had two goals and a pair of assists to lead the Kam River attack. Nickolas Fagnilli had two goals. Ryan Doucette had a goal and three points total, and Brydon Bell, Ryan Daponte, Carter Nailen and Max Wright had a goal and assist each. Jett Mintenko had three assists. Edwin Liang, Isiah Kinnavanthong and Carter Poddubny had a pair of helpers. Only two of 18 Fighting Walleye skaters were held off the scoresheet. 

Keanu Woodhouse had Kenora’s lone gone, a powerplay marker at 12:42 of the first that made it 3-1 for Kam River at the time. The Walleye would add two more in the initial frame, two in the second and four more in the third.

Connor Dunham absorbed 84 shots–28 in each period–to take the loss. Travis VanderZwaag stopped 20 of 21 for his 8th win, lowering his GAA to 2.95.

It was a physical game. The teams combined for 43 penalty minutes. Kenora was 1-6 on the powerplay while the Walleye were 2-8. 

Kenora 1 at Kam River 12 Saturday

Kam River unleashed 82 shots, including 40 in the second period, to defeat Kenora 12-1 before 685 fans at Norwest Arena. They had plenty to cheer about. Brydon Bell and Jett Mintenko had two goals and two assists each, and Ryan Doucette and Carter Poddubny had one goal and three helpers apiece to lead the offensive charge. Braeden Duchesne, Jacob Sargent and Kaden Goodwin had goals and assists and Carter Nailen, Salvatore and Nickolas Fagnilli chipped in with two helpers apiece.

Ashton Sadauskas stopped 15 for his league-leading 25th win.

Jayden McPherson-Nepinak scored the lone goal for Kenora.

The Walleye maintained a one-point lead over Sioux Lookout for first place. They’ll have a chance to go three up on the idle Bombers in Sunday’s game.

Matthew Stephens started in net for Kenora stopping 44 of 53 shots while taking the loss. Kaden King shunted aside 26 of 29 in relief.

The Walleye were 4-5 on the powerplay while killing off two Islander chances.

The Islanders took 24 of 42 penalty minutes.

Kenora 0 at Kam River 11 Sunday 

Jett Mintenko had two goals and three assists, Kaden Goodwin had a hat trick, and the Fighting Walleye outshot Kenora 104-13 en route to an 11-0 crusher over Kenora. 

Kam River opened up a two-point lead over Thunder Bay for first place with the convincing win. 

Travis VanderZwaag collected his second shutout of the season.

Carter Poddubny had two goals and an assist, Daxton Lang and a goal and two assists, Caleb Labelle and Braeden Duchesne had a goal and assist each, and five players contributed two helpers each: Liam Bell, Carter Nailen, Adam Layden, Easton Debray, and Isiah Kinnavanthong. Mintenko climbed to 6th in league scoring with his five-point splurge. He now has 58 points on the season.

Kaden King took it on the chin, surrendering all 11 goals while stopping 93 shots.

The teams square off in Kenora next weekend for a pair, and if the standings hold, will meet in round one of the SIJHL playoffs.

Two fights broke out in the third after relative peace in the first two frames.  

The Walleye improved their powerplay percentage with a 3-5 showing, while killing off six Islander powerplays.

Red Lake 1 at Sioux Lookout 4 Friday

Sioux Lookout struck for three powerplay goals in the second period to defeat visiting Red Lake 4-1 on “Hockey is for Everyone” jersey night at the Hangar. A crowd of 392 watched the Bombers stay within a point of first place Kam River and Thunder Bay with the clutch ‘W’, and stay four ahead of fourth place Dryden.

After a scoreless first, Rylen Leroux’ second of the year got Sioux Lookout on the board at 33 seconds of the second. Leroux backhanded in a loose puck with Kaden Veller assisting. Nolan Palmer doubled the lead, getting a rebound past starter Ethan Nietsch at 11:53. Defenceman Dayvan Bull skated into the slot area and snapped home his 10th for the 3-0 edge.

Noah Tenney clicked on a Miners’ 5-on-3 powerplay at 11:23 of the third to close the gap to two. Ty Kirk’s shorthanded goal with 2:19 left proved to be the dagger. Owen Riffel’s breakaway away attempted was stopped, but Kirk was there to clean up the rebound for his 5th of the year to close out the scoring.

Jack Osmond secured the Bomber win–his 17th. Osmond turned aside 25 of 26, improving his numbers across the board. His 2.28 GAA and .937 SV% are both second in the league to teammate Matthew Spencer-Dahl. Neitsch fell to 10-8-2 while stopping 27 of 31.

The Miners are now six points behind Dryden with six games to go.

Veller and Riffel were the only players to register two points with two assists each.

Red Lake was 1-8 with the man advantage while Sioux Lookout was 3-6.

The Bombers took an uncharacteristic 30 penalty minutes to Red Lake’s 14.

Red Lake 1 at Sioux Lookout 3 Saturday

The Bombers slipped past the idle Thunder Bay North Stars into second place with a 3-1 win over Red Lake. The Miners will likely finish in fifth place. They’re eight points behind Dryden with five games left, but have two games in hand on the Ice Dogs.

Ty Love scored his first goal of the season from the slot on an assist from Alex Lucas to give the Bombers a 1-0 lead through one period. Trevor Sanderson’s point shot doubled the margin on a Sioux Lookout powerplay at 8:01 of the second.

With the Bombers up 2-0 after two periods, the physicality ramped up. A total of 12 infractions were whistled in the third frame, after just five total in the first two periods. Ryker Watt tightened the score with his 13th from Noah Tenney at 8:55, connecting on the doorstep past Jack Osmond.

Blake Burke restored the two-goal margin at 10:12, converting a backhand pass past Ethan Nietsch for his 18th. Connor Burke and Owen Riffel collected the assists. 

It was a steady parade to the penalty box for both teams past midway point in the third period.

Osmond’s record improved to 18-6-2 on the year, with a 2.23 GAA. Neitsch’s record evened to 10-10-2 with a GAA of 2.37. Shots were 37-32 in favour of the Bombers.

Red Lake was 0-5 on the powerplay while Sioux Lookout connected once in nine chances. The Miners took 28 penalty minutes to the Bomber’s 12. A total of 390 fans watched the action. 

Thunder Bay 5 at Fort Frances 4 (OT) Friday

Lucas Bailey will not likely forget his first game as a North Star. The U18AAA Thunder Bay Kings defenceman scored at 17 seconds of overtime as Thunder Bay overcame a 4-0 deficit to defeat Fort Frances 5-4 at Ice For Kids Arena.

Landon Lowes converted a pass from Brody Lindal past Keenan Marks at 17:56 for the only goal of the first period.

The teams exchanged six second period goals with the Lakers getting the first three and Thunder Bay the next three to put themselves back in the game. Brandon Gustafson doubled the lead on a Lakers 2-on-1 at 3:16. Ian Snooks scored from the slot on a nice feed from Remington Richardson 45 seconds later, and Kyle Garland got his 3rd of the year unassisted on Stars’ giveaway for the 4-0 lead. 

Thunder Bay pulled starter Marks for Ben Laurette after Garland’s goal at 9:36.

The Stars’ big guns showed up from that point forward. EJ Paddington became the second player to hit 30 goals, beating Jack Orchard low from the slot at 11:24. Tyler Jordan slapped home his 27th from the left circle. Easton Mikus got his 29th on a redirect at 19:08 on a Stars’ powerplay to narrow the lead to one.

The Lakers did well on the penalty kill in the third period, killing off over four minutes of a carry-over major penalty and three other minor penalties. Edison Weeks tied the game at 13:06 at even strength for his 26th on assists from Alex Remenda and Jordan. 

Thunder Bay had 19 shots in the third frame, outshooting the Lakers 39-27 in regulation. 

Bailey scored on the only shot taken in overtime on the powerplay on an assist from Cameron Dial. The 5-11, 170 rearguard had eight goals in 26 games with the Kings this year. A Fort Frances native, Bailey was playing in front of his parents and undoubtedly a contingent of friends.

Laurette improved his record to 7-0-1 with a 2.25 GAA and .928 SV%. Marks stopped 14 of 18. Orchard had 35 stops on 40 shots.

Paddington and Jordan added assists and Remenda and Dial had two helpers each for Thunder Bay. No Laker had more than a single point.

The Stars were 2-3 with the man advantage. The Lakers were 0-1. The Lakers took 27 of 35 penalty minutes assessed.

A total of 254 fans witnessed the game. The teams enjoy a day off before squaring off at the Fort William Gardens for a Sunday matinee.

Fort Frances 4 at Thunder Bay 5 Sunday Matinee

Edison Weeks of Thunder Bay had the final say, scoring with 5:41 left in the third, to give the North Stars a hard fought 5-4 home win over the Fort Frances Lakers before 478 fans at the Fort William Gardens.

Neither team was ever ahead by more than one as the teams exchanged two goals each in the first, one each in the second, and were deadlocked 4-4 up until Weeks’ decisive powerplay marker on a deflection with time winding down.

Brady Krentz notched his 17th early in the first on assists from Caige Starr and Clark Scaddan to give the visiting Lakers a 1-0 lead. Beau Helmeczi tied it with a behind the net bank shot 1:19 later at 2:26. Easton Mikus got his 30th of the year at 11:16 on a Stars’ powerplay, and Brody Lindal returned the favour with his 17th on a Lakers man advantage at 17:10 to close out the first period scoring. 

The teams exchanged second period goals.

Sam Skillestad wristed home a bullet from the point past a screened Gunner Paradis in the Lakers’ cage for his 5th at 2:33. Pierce Gouin responded with his 17th with Scaddan and Starr combining on the assists at 16:23 to tie the game at 3-3. 

Alex Remenda opened the scoring 23 seconds into the third, picking up a loose puck and putting it under the bar for his 11th. Former North Star Magnus Pearson one-timed a Lindal pass past Laurette for his 8th to make it 4-4. Weeks deflected EJ Paddington’s point shot on a Stars’ powerplay with less than six minutes to go for the winning margin.

Laurette made 20 saves to up his record to 8-0-1 in nine starts. Thunder Bay native Paradis made 36 stops in the loss.

Skillestad added two assists for three points, Paddington had three assists, and Cameron Dial chipped in with two helpers for the Stars. Lindal had a goal and two assists, Krentz added an assist, Starr had three assists and Scaddan assisted on two for Fort Frances.

The Lakers were 3-4 on the powerplay while Thunder Bay was 2-4. The Lakers took 19 minutes in penalties to Thunder Bay’s 17.

Wisconsin 5 at Dryden 6 Friday

Dryden defeated Wisconsin 6-5 with 10 of their 13 skaters registering a point or more in a game that was tied 5-5 through the first 24:48 of game time.

Elias Eisenbarth scored the only goal in the final 35:12, getting his 5th unassisted at 12:32 of the third to win the game. The streaking Ice Dogs have won nine of their last 10 and four in a row. Their 60 points put them six points clear of 5th place Red Lake, and four back of third place Sioux Lookout in the SIJHL standings battle.

Dryden had a 4-3 lead after a period. Wisconsin scored two of three second period goals by 4:48 to tie the game up at 5-5.

Ryan Kayser got his 11th for the Lumberjacks at 50 seconds of the first to kick off proceedings. Sean Smith countered for Dryden 1:09 later. Kayser got his second of the game at 3:26 on a short breakaway backhander. Carson Devine registered his 16th on a low shot blocker side on Riley Burnett and Max Roby tallied his 25th on a Wisconsin turnover for a 3-2 Dryden lead at 7:01 chasing Burnett in favour of William Forrester.

Collin Baker’s 15th knotted the score at 9:54. Adam Zimmerman’s point shot at 13:26 on a Dryden powerplay put the Dogs up 4-3 after one.

Josh Gulden tied it up for Wisconsin at 1:36 and Simon Davidson added a shorty courtesy of Dillon Phillips steal and feed at 2:58. to put the ‘Jacks up 5-4. Dryden’s Ewan Soutar was pulled at that point, having stopped eight of 13 in a rare shaky start. Less than two minutes later, Ryland Maier got his 14th off a Wisconsin skate to tie it at five-all.

Christian Lynch came in to play net for Dryden and stopped all 14 shots he faced to ultimately pick up the win. 

The teams were scoreless after the initial barrage until Eisenbarth’s game winner in a goal-mouth scramble in the third. Jackson Payeur got the primary assist and Tanner Skrpnyk picked up the secondary for his first SIJHL point. 

Both teams swapped out their starting goaltenders. Burnett stopped nine of 12 and Forrester shouldered the loss, stopping 21 of 24.

Lynch picked up his 6th win in six starts, lowering his GAA to 1.75 in the process.

Wisconsin took five minor penalties to Dryden’s two. The Ice Dogs were 2-5 while up a man while Wisconsin was 0-2.

Eisenbarth, Maier, Devine and Smith all had two points for Dryden. Dillon Phillips picked up four assists, and Kaden Postal had two helpers in addition to Kayser’s two snipes for the ‘Jacks.

A crowd of 321 watched the game.

Wisconsin 3 at Dryden 4 (OT) Saturday 

It was a barn burner in Dryden before an excellent crowd of 631 at the Dog Pound as the Ice Dogs defeated the visiting Lumberjacks 4-3 in overtime.

Eli Antoine got two assists in regulation time, and scored the unassisted game winner at 1:58 of OT with a wrister blocker side on Wisconsin’s William Forrester.

Dryden had to score late in the game to even get to extra time. Stanislav Boiarchuk tied the game at 3-3 at 17:48 of the third on a goal mouth scramble.

Max Roby opened the scoring with his 26th, a roof job with 47 seconds left in the first. 

After just one minor penalty in the first frame (and Roby’s lone goal), the penalties rolled in at a steady pace in both the second and the third. 

Collin Baker tied the game at 1-1 at 4:48 of the second period on a wrister past Dryden goalie Christian Lynch for his 17th. Roby got his second of the game at 13:22, after some heavy lifting by Antoine who assisted on the play. Maddox Achtor tied the contest at 2-2 at 17:49 with assists from Bradyn Voong and Boston Beltz. Beltz garnered his first SIJHL assist on the play.

Baker scored his second of the game (his 17th) at 8:37 to give the Lumberjacks a 3-2 lead, their first lead of the game.  

Boiarchuk tied it up 3-3 on an Antoine assist, and the speedy Antoine salted away the win in overtime.

A total of 100 shots were taken in the game. Lynch bumped his record to 7-0-0 with a 45-save effort. Forrester stopped 48 of 52 while dropping to 5-10-2.

Despite 53 total penalty minutes, none of the goals were scored on the powerplay. Dryden was 0-9 with the man advantage while Wisconsin was 0-4.