Thunder Bay defenceman Kyle Auger works the puck deep against Fort Frances defenceman Nate Drobnick on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018 at Fort William Gardens. (Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com)

North Stars stay hot, hold off Lakers for 9th straight win

THUNDER BAY, Ont. – The surging Thunder Bay North Stars held off the Fort Frances Lakers Saturday to pull out their ninth Superior International Junior Hockey League win in a row with a narrow 3-2 triumph at the Fort William Gardens.

An early power play helped Thunder Bay open the night’s scoring six minutes into the contest as Joel Willan fired in his 13th with assists going to Keigan Gerrie and Kyle Auger.

With the assist, Auger now has at least one point in all 19 regular season contests he has skated in for the North Stars this season.

Fort Frances would counter with the equalizer later in the frame as Kirk Coppock was left with a tap in following a goal mouth scramble for his ninth of the campaign.

The home side retook the lead early in the second stanza when Michael Stubbs knocked one in from close range past Lakers netminder Jacob Gnidziejko.

After Jacob Antttonen made it 3-1 Thunder Bay 3:03 into the third, Fort Frances drew closer late thanks to a Jaedin Ness effort with 63 seconds left.

The Lakers pressed for the equalizer, however the North Stars held on from there to improve to a SIJHL-best 19-1-1-0 on the season.

In defeat Fort Frances fell to 9-13 overall in a game thaw saw Dougie Newhouse face 30 shots in the Thunder Bay victory while Gnidziejko saw 40 attempts in defeat.

Photo credit: Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com