By Gary Moskalyk
Thunder Bay, ON – James Hooton scored two and the Dryden Ice Dogs weathered a third period comeback to defeat the Thunder Bay North Stars 4-3 at Fort William Gardens for a 2-1 series lead. A crowd of 692 saw Dryden score three goals in the first and come within a pair of pad saves by Keenan Marks with seconds left of making it 4-0 before the first frame was over.
Ryland Maier picked up the loose change at 5:34 to open the scoring. The Ice Dogs notched a pair of powerplay markers to close out the period. Hooton tipped a Landen Stromme shot past Marks for a 2-0 lead at 15:07. Ben Hackl deflected a Jordan Pfoh drive with 21 seconds left. Marks made two saves with Dryden on the doorstep just seconds before the buzzer.
Thunder Bay opened the second with Conner Lemieux in net.
Nikolas Campbell clawed the Stars to within two with his 5th goal of the playoffs, polishing off a tic-tac-toe with Colby Feist and EJ Paddington at 16:07 of the second.
Hooton scored his second of the game and 6th of the playoffs with 39 seconds left in the second for a 4-1 Dryden lead.
The Stars registered two powerplay goals of their own in the third to make a game of it. Feist opened the frame with a point shot through traffic just 26 seconds in. Jamie Fuchs fired in his own rebound at 6:40 to get the Stars to within one. Dryden’s Eric Clark shut the door after that, making 10 of his 27 saves in the period for his 6th playoff win. With Lemieux on the bench and Dryden in the penalty box Thunder Bay couldn’t find the equalizer.
Marks was 8-11 in the saves department. Lemieux was 18-19 and took the loss.
Game shots were 30 apiece.
Stromme had three assists and Pfoh had a pair of helpers for Dryden. Feist had two assists in addition to his goal for Thunder Bay. Campbell had a two-point night.
Dryden was 2-5 with the man advantage. The Stars were 2-9. Dryden drew 28 of the 38 penalty minutes assessed by referees Scott Wrigley and Jason Begin. Game four is Saturday night at the Gardens.