April 21, 2023
Thunder Bay, Ontario
Following a 7-game overtime thriller in the quarter-finals between the Wisconsin Lumberjacks and the Sioux Lookout Bombers earlier this month, the 2023 Bill Salonen Cup competitors were determined Thursday night in perhaps even more dramatic fashion.
It’s hard to imagine a series that could have been any more even than the 2023 semi-final that featured the Thunder Bay North Stars and Dryden Ice Dogs going toe-to-toe in an attempt to face the regular season champion Kam River Fighting Walleye for all the marbles.
Six games solved nothing. Only one goal separated the teams during that stretch, with Thunder Bay tallying 19 against Dryden’s 18.
Sixty minutes of game seven solved nothing. Both teams were tied at two at the end of regulation.
Twenty minutes of overtime solved nothing.
It was the North Stars’ Nikolas Campbell – reacquired by the club at this year’s trade deadline – who finally ended it at 14:31 of the second overtime to bring to an end a memorable series and cement their spot in the finals with an opportunity to compete for a spot at the Centennial Cup. The tally was Campbell’s 11th of the playoffs (leading the league) and second consecutive game winner to pull his club out of a 3-2 series deficit.
The Fighting Walleye have been patient observers having dispatched the Wisconsin Lumberjacks in a tidy 5-games in their semi-final Saturday. The only blemish being a 3-2 overtime loss in game 3 at Wisconsin. Kam River earned a bye in the quarterfinals courtesy of their top placing in the regular season standings.
Kam River dominated the regular season series between the clubs going 8-1-0-0. Six of the wins were in regulation, with one in a overtime and another in a shootout. The clubs split the last two games they played with the North Stars squeaking out a 4-3 victory on March 10, and the Fighting Walleye flipping it around to a 3-2 victory the next night. Both games were played at the Fort William Gardens.
The series gets underway on Sunday April 23, 7:30pm at Norwest Arena and is a best-of-7 format.
The 2023 Bill Salonen Cup Champions will earn entry into the CJHL Centennial Cup National Junior A Hockey Championships taking place in Portage, MB starting May 11.
Here is the full schedule for the semi final round of the 2023 Playoffs:
- Sunday April 23, 7:30pm EDT, Norwest Arena
- Monday April 24, 7:30pm EDT, Norwest Arena
- Thursday April 27, 8:00pm EDT, Fort William Gardens
- Friday April 28, 7:30pm EDT, Fort William Gardens
- Saturday April 29, 7:30pm EDT, Norwest Arena (*If necessary)
- Monday May 1, 7:30pm EDT, Fort William Gardens (*if necessary)
- Wednesday May 3, 7:30pm EDT, Norwest Arena (*if necessary)