By James Brohm
Sioux Lookout, ON – It was another hard-fought battle for the Sioux Lookout Bombers and the Thunder Bay North Stars. This time the veteran core of the Bombers took control of the game with all Sioux Lookout goals coming off the sticks of returning players.
It didn’t take long for Owen Riffel to make his presence known. Just over 3 minutes into the game he was on the scoresheet with a tap-in rebound off a Blake Burke net drive. At 12:54 Thunder Bay was on the board with a goal by EJ Paddington assisted by Easton Mikus and Edison Weeks. The period also had five minor penalties between the two teams. The stanza came to an end with the teams knotted at 1-1.
Setting the pace again, Riffel scored on the power play less than a minute into the second frame. This time assisted by Connor Burke and Captain Nolan Palmer. Alex Lucas added to the Bombers lead with an unassisted goal at 6:48. Edison Weeks brought the visiting back to a one goal deficit at 10:43. And a minute later, Blake Burke restored the two-goal lead for the Bombers. In the dying seconds of the period, Thunders Bay’s Easton Mikus jumped on a Bombers defensive zone fumble and scored to bring the score to 4-3.
The game opened up in the third period and the first half was very fast, end-to-end action with both goaltenders standing tall. At 9:10 Maxwell Buffone tied the game at 4 with a quick shot from the low slot on a puck centered by Edison Weeks. With just over 4 minutes to go in regulation, Owen Riffel completed the hattrick with the game winning goal. The Bombers held on for a 5-4 win.
Both teams had rookie goaltenders in for the second game of the weekend. Matthew Ofukany was given the nod for the Bombers and Ethan Barron made his debut for the North Stars. Ofukany made 33 stops on 37 shots while Barron made 28 saves on 33 shots. Bombers’ captain Nolan Palmer was named the third star and his defence partner, Dayvan Bull was the game’s second. It was no surprise that the first star of the game was Owen Riffel, who netted the first hattrick of the season in the SIJHL.
The Bombers travel south of the border next weekend to face the Lumberjacks, the team that ended their inaugural season in game seven of round one of the playoffs. The North Stars will pay a visit to newest team in the SIJHL next Saturday to face off against the Kenora Devil’s Gap Islanders.