THUNDER BAY, Ont. – Joel Willans’ second goal of the game, coming on the power play early in overtime, was the difference as the Thunder Bay North Stars survived a late Dryden GM Ice Dogs comeback as they pulled out a 4-3 triumph Friday in Superior International Junior Hockey League action at the Fort William Gardens.
Dryden did open the scoring 57 seconds into the contest as Dylan DiTomaso’s harmless looking attempt from the right point sailed past Thunder Bay starter Seth McKay.
The North Stars drew level in the latter stages of the first period when Alex Erwin finished off some hard work from teammates Michael Vecchio and Ben Erwin.
Thunder Bay then took the lead with the lone marker of the middle stanza as Maxime Fortin picked up his second of the season as the defenceman scored from just inside the GM Ice Dogs blueline.
Willan made it 3-1 for the home side 7:11 into the third as he finished off a perfect pass from Nikolas Campbell.
Dryden came right back a couple shifts later to pull back to within one on a backhand from Josh Weber.
Then down a skater later in regulation, Weber struck shorthanded to force extra time as he snapped the equalizer past McKay from the right faceoff circle to knot the affair at 3-3.
Still on the man advantage to commence OT, the North Stars pulled out the win when Cody Bruchkowski made a cross-crease feed right to the stick of Willan, who promptly lifted the game-winner over the pad of Dryden netminder Knute Loe to end.
Bruchkowski finished with a pair of assists for Thunder Bay while Xavier Halterman helped set-up both of Weber’s markers.
Thunder Bay held a big edge in shots on goal on the night, putting 49 on Loe, whose 45 stops helped the visitors earn a point while McKay faced 26 chances as he won his third straight start.
The same two teams tangle again Saturday in a 7:30 p.m. start at the Gardens.
Photo credit: Gary Moskalyk