Article and Photo by Gary Moskalyk, special to the SIJHL
Fri Nov 13 2020
New uniforms, same result. The Thunder Bay North Stars used four power play goals to defeat the Kam River Fighting Walleye 7-4 at NorWest Rec Centre. The win gives the North Stars a 3-0 lead in the eight-game Teleco Cup series.
Game four goes Saturday.
The teams exploded for five goals on a 3:18 span in the first, starting with North Stars’ forward Nikolas Campbell’s fourth of the series at 7:33. Robert Tyska tied it up 35 seconds later. Less than a minute later Jett Leishman re-established a 2-1 Thunder Bay lead. Trenton Morriseau struck at 9:58 for the Walleye to tie it back up.
Michael Stubbs polished off the barrage at 10:51–Thunder Bay’s second power play marker in the frame–to give the Stars a 3-2 advantage.
Stubbs was making his first appearance of the season.
“It’s good to get the monkey off the back,” said Stubbs, who scored 25 goals for the North Stars in the 2018-19 season before playing with the Mississauga Steelheads in the OHL last year.
“After you get that first one it’s all about team game,” added Stubbs. “It’s about penalty killing. I feel like I had a lot of penalty kill shifts tonight. Worked my butt off in those. Those are the little things the stat sheets don’t tell. That’s what we have to bring to the rink every day.”
Keaton Mercredi notched the second period’s first marker, depositing a goal-mouth feed from Alex Enegren to re-tie the match at threes.
A Leeam Tivers re-direct and Austin Cardinal’s snipe from the left face-off circle put Thunder Bay up by two heading into the third.
Morriseau’s second of the game from beyond the face-off circle pulled the Walleye to within one.
Despite tying the game three times Walleye head coach Matt Valley acknowledged the Stars power play did them in.
“Their power play was a lot better than our penalty kill and our power play for sure,” said Valley. “Not a lot of comments on it. They zipped it around, we stood around and watched it.”
The Stars took nine minor penalties while the Walleye took 10, including a double-minor with 4:36 left that pretty much sealed their fate.
Jacob Anttonen buried a rebound at 8:07 of the third on a Thunder Bay powerplay to make it 6-4. Tivers shelfed a backhander from a tough angle with the man advantage late in the game to round out the scoring.
Jordan Smith stopped 26 of 30 to pick up the win, while Austin Madge was 33 of 40 in the loss. Morriseau had two goals and Enegren had three helpers to lead the Walleye. Tivers had a pair of goals for Thunder Bay. Leishmann added a pair of assists for a three-point night. Anttonen had a goal and assist and Ryley Cardinal added a pair of assists for Thunder Bay.
“It different hockey, right? A lot of those penalties don’t happen in a regular game,” said North Star head coach Rob DeGagne. “Your special teams unit has to be good. It’s great when you’re connecting. They seem to go in bunches. Hopefully we can continue it. See how it goes.”