By Gary Moskalyk
Sioux Lookout 2 at Thunder Bay 3 Friday
The SIJHL’s two hottest teams, two top lines and two of its better goaltending corps battled at Fort William Gardens with Thunder Bay taking game one of a three-game home stand 3-2 before 482 fans. North Stars’ newcomer Beau Helmeczi stole the show. The Esterhazy, SK native tied the game in the third and won it with 4:33 to go in regulation with a sniper’s touch as the Stars rolled to their fifth consecutive win while handing the first-place Bombers their first regulation loss.
Thunder Bay outshot the road-weary Bombers 26-3 through 20 minutes and 58 to 26 overall. Jack Osmond was stellar in net for the Bombers in his first loss of the year, dropping his record to 5-1-1. Keenan Marks upped his record to 4-2-0.
The Owen Riffel/Connor Burke/Blake Burke line was missing Riffel, out with a concussion. Riffel expects to play as early as next weekend. Thunder Bay’s Edison Weeks/EJ Paddington/Easton Mikus troika was intact, with Weeks getting his third of the year from Mikus at 7:37 of the first.
Connor Burke tied it up at 7:01 of the second.
Burke got his second of the game and 8th of year from the slot at 1:14 of the third to give the Bombers a 2-1 lead despite being heavily outshot.
Helmeczi wristed in his first at 4:29 on a Thunder Bay powerplay. On the game winner, he corralled a loose puck and beat Osmond clean with 4:13 left. Osmond left the cage with 1:34 left but the Bombers couldn’t land the tying goal.
Keenan Marks made 24 saves in the win, upping his record to 4-2-0.
Thunder Bay was 1-3 with the man advantage, Sioux Lookout 0-2. The Bombers took 13 penalty minutes to the Stars’ eight.
Sioux Lookout 4 at Thunder Bay 5 Saturday
The Thunder Bay built a 5-0 lead and goalie Ethan Barron was on track for his first SIJHL shutout with just over five minutes to go. If you left early to beat the traffic you missed an epic comeback. Jonah Smith scored at 14:55, Tait Howell at 16:49, and Alex Lucas at 18:35 and 19:09 as the Bombers rallied for four late goals in a 4:14 span ultimately falling one short in a 5-4 win for the North Stars.
Smith went high blocker for his 6th, Howell scored his 3rd of the season on a point shot on a Bomber powerplay, Lucas scored from an impossible angle from the right boards to make it 5-3, and then he buried a backhander with 51 seconds left as a cozy Thunder Bay lead ended in a one-goal nail biter.
The Stars were able to kill off the remaining time for their 6th win in a row. The Bombers dropped their second in succession after going 9-0-1 in their first ten games.
Thunder Bay led 2-0 after one, 3-0 after two, and held a 5-0 lead by the 12:43 mark of the third.
Easton Mikus and Dimitri Trahiotis on a powerplay got Thunder Bay on the board. Cohen Tangedahl connected in the second. Connor O’Brien and Tyler Jordan with his 5th in six games built a seemingly insurmountable lead only to see it nearly evaporate.
Still, the Stars triumphed in a statement game that knocked the Bombers into second place and elevated the Stars to a 7-4-0 record and sole possession of 4th.
Barron collected his third win against two losses with a 20-save effort. Matthew Spencer-Dahl turned aside 34 of 39 for his first loss of the year.
Sioux Lookout was 1-5 on the powerplay while Thunder Bay was 2-4. The Stars took 20 of 28 penalty minutes.
A crowd of 496 attended.
Sioux Lookout 2 at Thunder Bay 4 Sunday
Thunder Bay swept the Bombers with a 4-2 home win before 344 patrons. EJ Paddington had two goals and a helper, Easton Mikus had a goal and assist, and Edison Weeks two assists as the SIJHL’s hottest line continued to roll.
Keenan Marks raised his record to 5-2-0 with a 29-save performance.
The win gives the Stars 16 points on the year, seven wins in a row, and leaves them four points behind first-place Dryden, three back of the Bombers and two back of Kam River.
The Bombers saw their record fall to 9-3-1.
Paddington opened the scoring at 1:40 of the first. He deflected Drew Caddo’s point shot for his 7th. Blake Burke replied for Sioux Lookout at 13:17, collecting a Alex Lucas rebound for number six on the year.
Maxwell Buffone moved in from his point position and went low five-hole on Jack Osmond for his first of the campaign. The Stars doubled their lead when Paddington one-timed one from the high slot on a Thunder Bay powerplay for a 3-1 edge after two.
Sioux Lookout’s Jonah Smith gained control of a misplayed puck at his own blue line and steamed in on a shorthanded breakaway as the Bombers shaved a goal off their deficit at 44 seconds of the third.
Easton Mikus notched his 12th–one off the league lead in goals–when his shot hit the crossbar, dangled for a moment, and then fell in off Osmond at 7:36. There were no dramatics from there. The Stars outshot Sioux Lookout 20-9 in the third and 48-31 overall as they entered “elite team” status with their recent string of wins.
Caddo collected two assists for Thunder Bay.
Osmond stopped 44 shots in the loss. Sioux Lookout’s powerplay was held to one goal in six chances. Thunder Bay was 2-8. The Stars took 22 of 38 penalty minutes.
Kenora 5 at Fort Frances 6 (SO) Friday
It took 10 games and an 11-man shootout but the Fort Frances Lakers pulled out a 6-5 victory at home to hit the win column before 377 fans at Ice For Kids Arena. The Islanders secured their first point since a season-opening victory over Wisconsin.
Ian Snooks beat Matthew Stephens for the game winner before 377 fans.
Stephens stopped 56 of 61–not including any of the eight he shunted aside in the shootout. Lukas Toth collected the Lakers first win of the year by saving 28 of 33. He stopped nine of 11 in the shootout.
The teams were tied 1-1 after 20. Cobe Delaney got his third of the year at 6:23 on a Lakers’ powerplay . Aaron Bertschinger registered his 7th for Kenora to knot the score. In the second period, Delaney and Noah McPherson shot the Lakers ahead 3-1 only to see Braden Mackay and John Paul Scaringi reply for Kenora.
The Islanders struck for the first two goals in period three. Bertschinger’s second of the game on an Islanders’ powerplay at 0:56 and Mackay’s second of the game had Kenora up 5-3. Jack Wood at 13:23 and Ryker Watt at 17:18, both with their second goals of the season, sent the game into overtime.
The Lakers had a 5-2 shot advantage in extra time but Stephens and Toth kept the game tied.
Clark Scaddan scored on his first shot in the shootout for Fort Frances. Mackay tied it on Kenora’s third attempt to tie it. Hudson Favreau scored on Kenora’s 9th shot only to have Caige Starr score on the Lakers’ 9th attempt. Toth stopped Jayden McPherson-Nepinak and Emry Bunting on shots 10 and 11. Landon Lowes was denied but Snooks connected to send the Lakers into a raucous celebration.
Ryker Watt added a pair of assists to his goal for a three-point game. Remington Richardson and Pierce Gouin also had two assists for the Lakers. Scaringi had an assist for the Islanders.
Kenora was 1-3 while up a man. The Lakers were 1-4. Fort Frances took 20 penalty minutes to 12 minutes for Kenora.
Kenora 0 at Red Lake 9 Saturday
Red Lake scored four in the first, two in the second and three in the third and Ethan Nietsch lowered his GAA to 1.99 with his first win of the year as the Miners trounced Kenora 9-0. Neitsch stopped 14 as he entered the shutout ranks.
Brody Lindal had two goals and a helper, Ethan Cerone scored two, Carter Deschamps and Justin Gelderland had a goal and assist each, and Aiden Corbett chipped in with two apples as the Miners unleashed a 77-shot barrage at Kenora’s Matt Stephens.
No powerplay goals were recorded as both teams eschewed the penalty box for the most part. Both teams took five minor penalties.
The Miners stayed above .500 improving their record to 6-5-1. Kenora fell to 1-8-1.
Kam River 3 at Fort Frances 1 Saturday
Riley Borody scored two and Ashton Sadauskas saved 23 of 24 as the Kam River Fighting Walleye defeated the Fort Frances Lakers 3-1 before 347 fans at Ice For Kids Arena. The Lakers, coming off an emotional win against the Islanders, gave the Walleye a good run.
After a scoreless first Borody clicked on a rebound chance that made it out to the high slot. Borody buried it past his old teammate Jack Orchard for a 1-0 lead at 36 seconds of the second. He added to the lead at the five-minute mark when he went high blocker for his 5th of the season. Clark Scaddan answered a minute later, with a wrister from the high slot high glove side for his 3rd of the year.
Nickolas Fagnilli scored the final goal at 17:43 of the third unassisted. He stole the puck and beat Orchard blocker side for an insurance tally. Orchard was pulled with 1:47 left but Fort couldn’t muster much offensively with the extra attacker.
Ryan Doucette had two assists for the Walleye, giving him nine on the year.
Kam River was 0-3 with the man advantage while Scaddan’s goal gave the Lakers one on the PP in four opportunities. Fort Frances took 26 penalty minutes to Kam River’s eight.
The Lakers see a quick turnaround, entertaining Kenora on Tuesday.
Wisconsin 3 at Dryden 7 Saturday
Eli Antoine scored a hat trick as the Dryden Ice Dogs peppered the Wisconsin’s William Forrester with 54 shots en route to a 7-3 win over Wisconsin.
Dryden led 3-0 after a period, 5-2 after 40. Antoine struck twice in the third to give him four on the year. Antoine scored two shorthanded–a Dryden specialty–as the win propelled them into first place. The Dogs now have five shorties on the season. Wisconsin has allowed six shorthanded goals against.
Kaden Bandura, and McLaren Paulsen and Max Roby on Dryden powerplays, provided a three-goal lead. Antoine’s first shorthanded goal came at 7:25 of the second as he collected a Bryce Benfield rebound for his second of the year.
Noah Fowler scored for Wisconsin at 10:32, but Carson Devine connected at 17:07 for a 5-1 lead. Carson Shafor tallied for Wisconsin with just nine seconds left in the second on a Wisconsin powerplay to make it 5-2. Whittaker Heart of Dryden was stymied at 9:16 of the second on a penalty shot saved by Forrester.
Antoine scored at even strength at 1:35 of the third. Mid-period, he and Benfield struck again while down a man as Benfield’s backhand pass found Antoine wide open from 10-feet out for goal number three.
Collin Baker rounded out the scoring for Wisconsin at 15:35.
Benfield had three assists on the night. Devine had a goal and assist, and Jackson Payeur contributed two helpers for Dryden. Fowler and Shafor had two points each for Wisconsin.
Michael O’Sullivan stopped 12 of 15 in two periods to secure the win. Ewan Soutar stopped four in the third in relief. Forrester took the loss in the Lumberjacks’ cage.
Dryden took 44 minutes of the 60 PIMs assessed. Wisconsin converted one of nine on the powerplay. Dryden was two for five. A crowd of 287 attended.
Wisconsin 4 at Dryden 2 Sunday
The Ice Dogs missed an opportunity to open up a three-point lead on the Bombers for first place as the Lumberjacks skated away with a 4-2 win on Dryden ice. The Lumberjacks took a major step forward with a big road ‘W’ against the league’s top team.
Nolan Fowler opened the scoring at 3:36 of the first, as a broken Wisconsin two-on-one with Dillon Phillips ended up of Fowler’s stick for his 5th of the year.
Four goals were exchanged in the second frame. McLaren Paulsen scored at 1:44 on a Dryden powerplay to tie the game, deflecting Sean Smith’s shot for his 5th. Kaden Postal deflected a Connor Corcoran point shot at 3:18 for a 2-1 Wisconsin lead. Phillips snapped home his 4th at 7:36 to make it 3-1. Max Roby sniped his 12th from the slot with a minute left to narrow the lead.
There was no scoring in the third until 19:19 when Corcoran split the uprights with an empty netter from his own zone for the final 4-2 Wisconsin decision.
Phillips had three points on the night and Fowler had two. Paulsen added an assist for Dryden.
Rylen Freshwater snared his first win with a 32-save effort. Michael O’Sullivan stopped 20 of 23.
Dryden took 27 of 41 penalty minutes. The Ice Dogs were 1-6 while up a man. They killed off all six of Wisconsin’s powerplays.
A crowd of 200 enjoyed the 5:00 p.m. start.