Wisconsin goaltender Nathan Mueller tries to bat the puck out of the way of Thunder Bay forward Cody Bruchkowski on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019 at Fort William Gardens. (Leith Dunick, tbnewswath.com)

Smith stops 43 as North Stars blank Lumberjacks

THUNDER BAY, Ont. – Jordan Smith handled all 43 shots he faced to record his first Superior International Junior Hockey League shutout as the Thunder Bay North Stars blanked the visiting Wisconsin Lumberjacks 8-0 Wednesday evening at the Fort William Gardens.

After a face off win deep in Wisconsin territory, Thunder Bay connected quickly to open the night’s scoring at 5:15 as Ben Erwin got it up to Jacob Anttonen, who drove to the net and lifted in eighth of the season.

The North Stars combo clicked once more when breaking out of their own zone, the duo worked a nice give-and-go that resulted in Erwin feeding Anttonen, who buried another 13 minutes into the frame.

Thunder Bay kept coming and tacked on another before the first was finished as Evan Nicholas came down the left wing and snapped one past Lumberjacks’ starter Nathan Mueller.

A rush up the ice helped the home side add another midway through the second stanza when Michael Vecchio split the Wisconsin defence then snapped one high, blocker side.

It was more North Stars in the third as Jacob Brown registered a nice effort following some nice work from newcomer Hunter Foreshew and Cody Bruchkowski.

Continuing to convert offensively, Thunder Bay tacked on another with 12 minutes to go on Nikolas Campbell’s fifth in the SIJHL.

After Nicholas notched another, they then finished off the decision in the final minute on a Bruchkowski effort.

Anttonen finished with four points in the triumph while Nicholas had three.

With the win, Smith improved to 9-0-1 to begin his SIJHL career.

Wisconsin starter Nathan Mueller allowed seven against on 36 attempts and suffered the loss while Matt Fitzergerald handled three of four in nearly six minutes of relief.

Photo credit: Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com