Fighting Walleye Complete Weekend Sweep

Fighting Walleye forward Tyler Ralph (#19) is challenged by North Stars Nikolas Campbell (#18) in SIJHL regular season action November 28, 2020.

SIJHL Sat Nov 28 2020

Photo and article by Gary Moskalyk, Special to SIJHL

Carson Gorst scored with under three minutes left and goaltender Austin Madge survived an 80-second six-on-four onslaught to end the game as the Kam River Fighting Walleye defeated the Thunder Bay North Stars 4-3 at NorWest Arena.

The win gave the Walleye a weekend sweep.

Late first period goals by Ethan Lang and Alex Enegren staked Kam River to a 2-0 lead. Nikolas Campbell registered the game’s only powerplay goal at 3:22 of the second to shave it in half.

Defenceman Joe McCollum beat North Stars’ netminder Seth McKay midway through the second but Thunder Bay’s Jacob Anttonen pulled the Stars back to within one at 15:30.

Campbell scored his fourth goal of the young season at 1:09 of the third, stripping the puck at the Walleye blue line, and walking in alone roofing one under the bar to knot the score at three-all.

Gorst deflected a loose puck past McKay on assists from Talon Thomas and Hunter Halcrow at 17:09 to provide the final margin.

“It was a team effort goal,” said Gorst of the winning tally. “It wasn’t an end-to-end spectacle of any sort. It was a hard battle, a shot, I just so happened to be in the right place at the right time. Just got in front of the puck, hit me, and went in. Considering our first four games weren’t the greatest, but to come out and show what Walleye hockey is all about. To go 2-0 now, it’s been really good, really exciting.”

Madge held the fort, making key saves with time winding down, making several of his 20 stops at a crucial juncture.

“I can’t say I really prepared for that moment,” said Madge. The Kelowna, BC native has kept Eric Vanska on the pines winning both his starts. “Had to be prepared on every shot. There’s was a lot going through my mind. It’s still going through my mind. Every guy on the team grinded to block shots. It was a team win.”

Thomas collected a pair of assists, giving him the league-lead with five points. Enegren added an assist. Campbell’s two goals gives him four on the season for Thunder Bay.

“Going 2-0 is exciting for sure,” said victorious head coach Matt Valley. “The guys really answered the bell in terms of what our coaching staff asked them to do. Exceeding expectation stuff? I’d say we met our expectations. Do we expect to beat the North Stars every game? No, they’re a really good team. I think we got some bounces, a big team effort, a lot of blocked shots, good goaltending performance. All around, I was happy in general.”

The North Stars finally get to play in the Fort William Gardens next weekend.

“We would have liked better results,” said North Star head coach Rob DeGagne. “We didn’t play good enough last night for sure. We weren’t even in the hockey game. . . Tonight, I thought they had a good first period. We didn’t play very well in the first. I thought the second period, third period we outplayed them. Their goaltender played great. He probably won them a hockey game. That’s what goaltenders are supposed to do, right? Got to find a way to beat him. That’s the way it is.”

The teams played games three and four of the regular season next Friday and Saturday at the Gardens.