SIJHL Week 7 Preview

By Gary Moskalyk

The North Stars are on a seven-game winning streak, Sioux Lookout took three on the chin after starting 9-0-1, Dryden’s the top dog in the SIJHL and the season is one-quarter over.

Let’s not forget that third place Kam River has the best winning percentage–.818–of any team in the league. They have three games in hand on Dryden and two on second-place Sioux Lookout. Red Lake has a modest two game winning streak. Wisconsin took five of six points against the Miners. Kenora and Fort Frances butt heads on Tuesday with pride on the line. 

Kenora 1-8-1 3 pts .150 7th GF 27 GA 77 -50 PIMs 280 PP% 13.0 PK% 67.6 at Fort Frances 1-9-1 3 pts .136 8th GF 20 GA 55 -35 PIMs 287 PP% 12.9 PK% 85.9 Tuesday

Fort Frances had a spirited home 6-5 shootout win recently against Kenora. Welcome to round 2.

The Lakers have had trouble scoring all season. Despite the outburst against Kenora, Fort is still averaging less than two goals a game.

Ryker Watt is the only Laker in the top-60 with seven points in 10 games. Cobe Delaney has four goals and an assist in nine games. Brady Krentz has five points in six games. Five players are tied with four points.

They’ve had the toughest schedule so far, playing all the top teams in a row to start the season. In their 11 games they’ve played Dryden, Sioux Lookout and Thunder Bay twice, and Kam River four times.

With some of the early season heavy lifting done expect the Lakers to improve the rest of the way.

Goalie Jack Orchard will be at the centre of any revival. The former Walleye is 0-5-1 so far with a 4.38 GAA and .896 SV% in 397 minutes. Lukas Toth has the only win and Gunner Paradis are in reserve.

The powerplay sits at 12.9%. The penalty kill is an above average 85.5%.

Kenora hasn’t won since game one. 

Aaron Bertschinger’s eight goals places him among the top snipers in the league. John Paul Scaringi has nine points in 10 games and Brayden Mackay and Jeremiah Jacques have eight. Defenceman Darian Sinclair has five points in six games.

Matthew Stephens has 467 minutes in net. He faces north of 60 shots per game. 

The Islanders’ powerplay stands at 13.0%. The penalty kill is at 67.6%.

The Islanders have been embraced by the community. The 787 patrons who attended game one stands as the top SIJHL crowd to date. In four of the five home games for which attendance numbers are available Kenora has averaged 591 fans.   

Dryden 10-4-0 20 pts .714 1st GF 61 GA 34 +27 PIMs 364 PP% 23.8 PK% 81.5 at Kam River 9-2-0 18 pts .818 3rd GF 59 GA 29 +30 PIMs 221 PP% 23.6 PK% 81.6 Fri/Sat 

Here’s the marquee match-up of the week. 

Visiting Dryden brings their heavy hitting style to Norwest Arena for a pair. Max Roby is second in the league with 12 goals. Carson Devine has 14 points (4G 10A). Bryce Benfield has six goals and seven assists in just nine games. Eli Antoine’s recent hat trick puts him in the top-20 in league scoring with 11 points, tied with D-man Sebastiano Biagi and Sean Smith. Kaden Bandura and McLaren Paulsen have 10. Defenceman Geoff Bjarnason has 9. In sum, plenty of fire power.

Ewan Soutar has a goals against average of 1.13 and a save percentage of .959 in 319 minutes. Partner Michael O’Sullivan has a 5-2-0 record in 460 minutes. Soutar was off for two weeks and played a period against Wisconsin. Goaltending, well Dryden has that, too.

Dryden’s powerplay is at 23.8%, virtually tied with Kam River at 23.6%. Their penalty kill is 81.5%, again a stalemate with the Walleye at 81.6%.

The Ice Dogs have five shorthanded goals to Kam’s two.

The Fighting Walleye have scored two goals for every one allowed. Rookie Carter Poddubny leads the team in goals, nine, and points, 14. Eight of the nine have been on the powerplay. Jett Mintenko, Ryan Doucette and Brydon Bell all have 13 points. Bell leads all rearguards in points. Riley Borody and Jeremy Dunmore have 11 points, Nickolas Fagnilli and Daxton Lang check in with 10 each. Kaden Goodwin and Edwin Liang have nine.

Travis VanderZwaag and Ashton Sadauskas are neck and neck in net. Sadauskas is the 1A option with 420 minutes to VanderZwaag’s 238. VanderZwaag has a 2.53 GAA and Sadauskas is 2.57. 

Dryden took a 5-3 decision in Dryden on October 18. The two-game rematch promises to be a barn burner.

Fort Frances at Red Lake 6-5-1 13 pts .542 5th GF 46 GA 32 +14 PIMs 199 PP% 9.7 PK% 82.8 Fri/Sat

The Miners struck gold with goaltender Ethan Neitsch. Neitsch is 1-3-1 through six games. His GAA is 1.99, second amongst qualified SIJHL goalies. His .934 save percentage is third. Noah Davis is 1-1-0 with a 4.16 GAA.

The Miners have solid balanced offense.

Up front  Noah Tenney (4G 6A) has 10 points. Veteran Aiden Corbett has nine. Luke DeCorby and defenceman Blake Hiltermann have four goals and four assists each. Gabe Tanton and d-man Bryson Carlyle are at one goal and seven assists. Brody Lindal have five goals among his seven points Landon van Engelen and Jared Burnett both have two goals and five assists. 

Red Lake is a touch below 10.0% on the powerplay. In 62 chances they’ve scored six and allowed three. The penalty kill is at 82.8.

The Miners have the least penalty minutes in the league at 199, 16.6 minutes per game. 

Thunder Bay 8-4-0 16 pts .667 4th GF 46 GA 34 +12 PIMs 204 PP% 19.3 PK% 88.5 at Wisconsin 4-6-3 11 pts .423 6th GF 40 GA 58 -18 PIMs 252 PP% 12.0 PK% 82.1 Fri/Sat 

Thunder Bay makes the 425 km trip to Wisconsin on a seven-game winning streak. This is their first meeting against the Lumberjacks.

EJ Paddington has 21 points, tied for the league lead. Easton Mikus has 12 goals and 20 points. Edison Weeks has three goals and 12 helpers. That line is firing on all eight cylinders. Tyler Jordan is next in team scoring with five goals and four assists in seven games. Defenceman Drew Caddo has logged major ice time, plenty of it on the powerplay. He picked up five assists in the last two games against the Bombers last weekend. Cohen Tangedahl has eight points and defenceman Connor O’Brien has seven.

Notably, the Stars improved their penalty kill numbers against Sioux Lookout’s number one powerplay. Thunder Bay has killed off 88.5% of their penalties. The Stars 19.3% powerplay ranks third.

Keenan Marks brings a 5-2-0 record to the crease with a GAA of 2.31 and a SV% of .928. Ethan Barron is 3-2-0 3.17/.890. 

If any team is capable of beating anyone on a given night it’s Wisconsin. Witness their 4-2 win on enemy ice against Dryden last weekend. The Lumberjacks have an average penalty kill at 82.1%, but the powerplay has been suspect at best. The ‘Jacks have nine powerplay goals (12.0%) but have coughed up six shorties this year.

The young Lumberjacks are still evolving offensively having lost many of their top guns from last year. Ryan Kayser sits 26th in league scoring with 10 points.  Connor Corcoran has nine, Koen Burkholder eight, Nolan Fowler and Kaden Postal 7. Corcoran, Burkholder and Fowler are all rookies. 

William Forrester (a great name for a Lumberjack) has 379 minutes between the pipes with a 3.80 GAA and .902 SV%. Rylen Freshwater picked up the Dryden win in his second complete game.

Kenora at Sioux Lookout 9-3-1 19 pts .731 2nd GF 55 GA 34 +21 PIMs 244 PP% 27.8 PK% 86.4 Saturday

The Bombers hit a rough patch in Thunder Bay, getting swept in three games. Leading scorer Owen Riffel said he’s shooting to be back in the line-up soon, possibly against Kenora. He leads the league in goals with 13 and is tied with TBay’s EJ Paddington with 21 points. He and linemates Blake Burke (6G 11A) and Connor Burke (8G 8A) form a formidable combination.

Nolan Palmer (3G 8A), Alex Lucas (4G 6A), currently injured defenceman Dayvan Bull (finger, 1G 9A in 8 games) are in the 10-point club. Jonah Smith has seven goals and two helpers.

Jack Osmond, 5-2-1/2.26/.942 is lights out in net. Matthew Spencer-Dahl 2-1-0/ 2.95/.912 and Matthew Ofukany 2-0-0/3.50/.885 are capable back-ups.

The Bombers will be looking to getting back to their winning ways with a home date against the Islanders.