By Gary Moskalyk, Special to the SIJHL
The Thunder Bay North Stars scored three goals during the same seven-minute power play in the second period to upend the Kam River Fighting Walleye 7-2 in Teleco Cup action at NorWest Arena Saturday night.
Jett Leishman, Michael Vecchio and Nikolas Campbell broke open a 1-all tie for a 4-1 lead, and Vecchio added another at 13:58 of the second frame to pad the spread.
Trenton Morriseau continued his hot pre-season hand, scoring at 5:11 of the third on a Walleye power play, but even strength goals by Ryley Cardinal and Campbell put the game to bed.
The North Stars dominated in all three zones, outshooting Kam River 47-21. Jacob Stone won in net for Thunder Bay, while Eric Vanska shouldered the loss.
“We’re getting there. It’s a work in progress,” said North Stars head coach Rob DeGagne. “We’re trying to preach to do the right things, to do the little things. We don’t want to get caught up in any of the crap, we just want to play hockey. For the most part we had a lot of good work ethic. They put the work boots on. We’re
a good working team. We’ve got some skill up front. Hopefully they just continue that. Build on that, get better every night.”
Leishman had a two-goal night, scoring at 18 seconds of the first.
“It’s good to be on the score sheet contributing to the team,” said Leishman. “I think we’re clicking more and more as the season goes on. Late start to the season, we’re still trying to gel together a little bit, find our chemistry. Past couple games we’re all working together, putting the puck in the net. Couldn’t be happier how it’s going so far.”
Vecchio added an assist to his two-goal night. “First one, I was on the power play. It was a good pass over from (Hunter) Foreshew. Saw an opening. Got pretty lucky there on the top corner. Second one, Foreshew was on the boards. He gave a beautiful chip up. Went down, saw an opening and did the exact same thing, too.
“That power play was huge for us,” Vecchio continued. “It was seven minutes so we knew we had to get one or two, maybe three on them. That was a big game changer for us. Got us in the lead.”
Leishman and Vecchio look to be part of the ‘scoring by committee’ approach the Stars will need to be successful in an abbreviated and still pending SIJHL season.
Brad Fortier of the Fighting Walleye took a minor, a five-minute high sticking penalty, and a game misconduct at 4:39 of the second leading to the carnage.
“Do I look balder? I lost some hair this weekend, boys,” joked Walleye head coach Matt Valley before launching into his assessment of the game.
“Yeah, of course it [the seven-minute North Stars powerplay] changed the game. Best team in the league, best power play in the league.”
While Valley didn’t like the call to put the North Stars on the power play, he also acknowledged his own team’s penalty kill. “We should respond better, too. That’s on us.”
Fortier assisted on Alex Enegren’s first goal of the game for the Walleye. However, it was Thunder Bay dominating scoring. Foreshew, Michael Stubbs, Drew Meloche
and Rajvir Sangha had two assists each for the North Stars.
A moment of silence was held for Staal family matriarch Lammie Staal who passed away on November 6.
The series resumes in two weeks.