By Gary Moskalyk
EJ Paddington, Colby Feist, Keenan Marks and Co. are sending the Thunder Bay North Stars to a game seven against their cross-town rival Kam River Fighting Walleye. The Stars defeated Kam River 6-2 before 1,943 fans at Fort William Gardens. The scene shifts to Norwest Arena on Wednesday for all the marbles.
Marks shutdown Ethan Lang on a shorthanded breakaway with 30 seconds left in the first.
Kam River outshot Thunder Bay 20-11 in the first frame, but Drew Caddo drew first blood with a top-shelf laser with 0.4 seconds left to give the Stars a 1-0 lead.
Logan Gallaher’s deflection of a Josh Pufahl shot tied the game at 2:17 on the second. Thunder Bay took a 3-1 lead on two even-strength goals. Feist crashed the crease and jammed one past Eric Vanska for his first of the game and 6th of the playoffs. Paddington got his first of two at 15:37, redirecting a Matt Halushak’s shot.
Braeden Duchesne started behind his own blue-line, stick handled his way through multiple defenders, and scored unassisted on Marks at 3:28 of the third to narrow the score to 3-2. Paddington grabbed a rebound and notched his 6th at 7:39 on a Thunder Bay powerplay to create a three-goal cushion. Feist’s 7th, an empty netter with 1:42 left, sealed the deal.
Feist is tied with Nikolas Campbell for the playoff lead in points with 23.
Thunder Bay was 3-3 on their power plays. Kam River was 1-4. Both teams were flagged for four minor penalties.
Marks stopped 41 of 43 shots, raising his save percentage to .930, lowering his goals against to 2.52, while garnering his 9th win. Vanska thwarted 28 of 33 in the Walleye net. Kam River pulled Vanska with four minutes left in search of a miracle. Six North Stars had two-point games paced by Feist’s and Paddington’s four total goals. Caddo added an assist, and Halushak, Edison Weeks and Liam Murdoch had two helpers each.
Weeks was injured on a knee-on-knee hit but returned to the game.