By Gary Moskalyk
Thunder Bay fired 50 shots and pulled away with three goals in the final half of the third period to defeat Wisconsin 7-3 at Fort William Gardens. Easton Mikus had two goals, and Keagan Jones and Edison Weeks had a goal and two helpers each as the Stars rumbled to their sixth win in a row. Combined with Red Lake’s loss the Stars are three points clear of the Miners, two behind Kam River for second place and a point ahead of Dryden in the battle for third.
Collin Baker scored from the slot at 5:10 of the first period on a Wisconsin powerplay for a 1-0 lead. The final five minutes of the initial frame featured four goals.
North Stars’ defenceman Max Buffone was credited with his 2nd of the season on the most improbable goal of the lot. Wisconsin defenceman Josh Gulden inadvertently backhanded the puck from the near boards, along the icing line, and past William Forrester as the Stars tied it up. Nolan Fowler beat Keenan Marks from the tight blocker side to give the lead back to Wisconsin. Mikus accepted a perfect pass from Connor Larrett to bury his 22nd at 16:26 to tie the game, and Weeks buried his 19th on a nifty pass from Keagan Jones with 34 seconds left to give the Stars a 3-2 lead after one.
Early in the second Marks shone on a Wisconsin 2-on-0, stopping Fowler from in tight to preserve Thunder Bay’s 3-2 lead.
Jones scored the lone goal of the second period on a backhanded pass from Weeks at 17:08. Weeks collected his 50th point on the play. Jones has five of his 13 points in his last two games.
Ryan Kayser registered the Lumberjacks’ second power play goal at 7:08 of the third, slipping the puck past Marks to narrow Thunder Bay’s lead 4-3. Mikus’ one-timer at 10:48, his 23rd, upped the lead to 5-3.
The game was not over, however. Thunder Bay’s Dimitri Trahiotis took a double-minor starting at 12:20. The Stars killed them off. EJ Paddington and Owen Doherty counted late to round out the scoring.
Paddington also had an assist for the Stars and Carter Anton had two helpers. Zach Johnson had two assists for Wisconsin. Marks stopped 21 of 24 for his 14th win while Forrester shunted aside 43 absorbing his 6th loss.
Wisconsin was 2-6 with the man advantage while killing off all four of Thunder Bay’s opportunities.
The Stars took 14 of 24 penalty minutes assessed. Attendance was 497.