By Fighting Walleye Staff
Oliver Paipoonge, ON – Two good hockey clubs took to the ice at NorWest Arena on Saturday night, the Fighting Walleye and Miners meeting for the second game of their weekend set. Kam River was looking to bounce back after suffering an opening-night 6-3 loss to Red Lake.
After a rousing pre-game Bill Salonen Cup Championship banner raising ceremony from the home side, the puck dropped on what turned out to be a quick, physical, back and forth contest that was more reminiscent of a late-season battle between top clubs than the early-season, still shaking the rust off-type game many would have expected.
After a closely contested opening period, in which neither team could break the ice despite several quality scoring chances, Red Lake’s captain Luke DeCorby finally ended the deadlock with an early second period tally, just 58 seconds into the middle frame. Brydon Bell got the Fish on the board 7 minutes later, when he walked in from the blueline, made a deke around a defender and roofed a shot for his first goal of the season. Five minutes later, it was Kam River’s captain, Jeremy Dunmore, with his first of the new campaign, taking a nice feed from Kobe Braham and burying the powerplay goal to give his club a 2-1 lead. After Kyle Schechtel scored for the Miners on a breakaway just 40 seconds later to tie the game, Walleye rookie defenceman Edwin Liang sniped a beauty, for his first junior goal, and a 3-2 lead for the home team heading into the second intermission.
The score remained 3-2 until midway through the third, when another Kam River rookie, Creegan Tompkins, scored his first junior A goal on a net front scramble to put his team ahead by two. Red Lake pushed hard to make a comeback, but first-year Fighting Walleye goaltender Travis VanderZwaag was up to the task, making several highlight reel saves to keep his club in front. Despite a late Miners goal, by Noah Tenney (his second of the season), the Walleye took the win to even their record to 1-1-0 on the year.
16 year old VanderZwaag, an Oliver Paipoonge native and London Knights draft pick, was solid all night long in picking up his first junior victory. He stopped 35 of 38 shots in the contest.
The Fighting Walleye hit the road next Friday for a single game in Fort Frances against the Lakers.
The Miners’ next action comes against the Dryden GM Ice Dogs, who they will meet in a back to back, home and home series next Friday and Saturday night.
G and G Excavating 3 Stars
1st – Travis VanderZwaag – KRW
2nd – Edwin Liang – KRW
3rd – Gavin McIntosh – RLM