Photos: Kerri-Ann Kanceruk

By Gary Moskalyk

Red Lake 5 at Dryden 2 Friday

Streaking Red Lake forged a 3-0 lead through two periods and Noah Davis stopped 24 for his 8th win against one loss as the Miners defeated Dryden 5-2 before 337 fans.

Red Lake has reeled off 10 consecutive wins, while Dryden extended their winless streak to six. 

Noah Tenney got the Miners on the board early, cashing in a rebound at 1:14 of the first. Bradyn Rowsell’s point shot slapper doubled the lead with 48 seconds left in the initial period.

Gabe Tanton redirected Luke DeCorby’s pass past Dryden’s Ewan Soutar five minutes into the second. 

Dryden outshot Red Lake 12-7 in the third as the teams split a four-goal outburst. Stanislav Boiarchuk converted Ryland Maier’s centering pass to narrow the lead to 3-1. Boiarchuk notched his first SIJHL goal in the process. Preston Tauter got one through Soutar at 6:10 to re-establish Red Lake’s three-goal lead. 

Dryden’s Ben Coatham slapped home his second goal of the year from a sharp angle to pull the Ice Dogs to within two at 15:36. Defenceman Blake Hiltermann’s Hail Mary from deep in the Miners’ zone with Dryden’s net empty split the uprights to seal the win for the Miners. 

Rowsell scored on Red Lake’s only powerplay chance. Dryden was 0-1 in their lone opportunity. Only two minor penalties were called.

Tauter also had an assist and Matthew MacPherson had two helpers for Red Lake. Soutar faced 41 shots, stopped 37, and saw his record drop to 8-6-1. 

Red Lake 0 at Dryden 1 Saturday

Two streaks ended in Dryden Saturday: Red Lake saw their 10-game winning streak snapped and the Ice Dogs garnered their first win in seven tries.

Sean Smith scored the game winner and Ewan Soutar picked up 9th win with a 28-save shutout. Smith scored his 9th of year and Soutar collected his third shutout of the campaign, improving his goals against to 2.36 and save percentage to .926.

Noah Davis stopped 31 of 32 in the Red Lake cage, improving his numbers to a 2.86 GAA and .898 SV% while absorbing his second loss against eight wins.

Smith scored at 14:05 of the second frame, going backhand to forehand and up over Davis’ glove. Elias Eisenbarth registered his 5th assist on the play.

Penalty trouble kept Davis pinned to the net as Red Lake could not pull their goalie for an extra attacker. The Miners took 28 of the 52 penalty minutes assessed. The Miners were 0-4 with man advantage while Dryden was 0-6. 

Dryden fell to 5th place with their weekend split. Thunder Bay rose to 4th with their sweep over Fort Frances. Eight points separate the top five teams in the SIJHL. The Ice Dogs are two points back of Red Lake for third place and one behind the Stars for fourth. Dryden has played 33 games this year, three more than any other club.

But, the Ice Dogs are healthy, suspension free, and have a softer schedule heading into their final 16 regular season games. Head coach Kurt Walsten is adding a new goalie and stalwart James Hooton joins the roster shortly.

Thunder Bay 5 at Fort Frances 3 Friday

Thunder Bay climbed back into 4th place with a 5-3 road victory over Fort Frances. Edison Weeks had a goal and two assists, Easton Mikus had a goal and assist, and EJ Paddington had two helpers as the North Stars’ top line inflicted much of the damage. Keenan Marks made 26 saves for his 13th victory.

The teams were tied 1-1 after the first. Beau Helmeczi’s backhander at 3:48 of the first broke the ice for Thunder Bay. Teagan Wrolstad’s one-timer with 59 seconds left knotted the score.

The Stars scored three of the four second period goals to take a 4-2 lead into the final stanza. Mikus deflected Sam Skillestad’s point shot at 1:27 on a Thunder Bay powerplay for his 20th of the year. Connor Larrett got his third five minutes later for a two-goal lead. Brady Krentz picked up his own rebound and beat Marks with an unassisted effort at 14:11, but Weeks’ backhander high glove side beat Jack Orchard to give the Stars a 4-2 lead heading to the third.

Clark Scaddan scored on a Lakers’ powerplay at 6:19 to narrow the lead to one. Newly acquired forward Alex Remenda replied at 16:23 for Thunder Bay. 

Fort Frances was able to pull Orchard for a 2:27 stretch but the Stars hung in, extending the Lakers winless streak to eight games.

Thunder Bay outshot the Lakers 42-29. The Stars were 1-2 with the man advantage while Fort clicked on one of three opportunities. Only five minor penalties were called. 

Attendance was 376.

Thunder Bay 7 at Fort Frances 3 Saturday

Tyler Jordan scored three, Edison Weeks added two goals and a helper, and Ethan Barron turned aside 32 shots as the visiting Stars defeated Fort Frances 7-3 before 369 fans in Fort Frances.

The Stars notched four powerplay goals and Weeks added a shorty as the Stars climbed to within one point of Red Lake in the battle for third place. 

The Stars skated off the ice with a 2-1 first period edge.

Sam Skillestad’s point shot was deflected by Jordan at 3:49 as Thunder Bay took a 1-0 lead. Jordan caromed the puck off Jack Orchard’s pads from behind the net at 11:48 to double the margin.

Fort’s Clark Scaddan scored his 10th of the year unassisted on a breakaway at 17:18 to tighten the score.

Weeks and new recruit Alex Remenda had Thunder Bay up by three after 40 minutes. Weeks stole the puck, skated in on a breakaway and backhanded it past Orchard at 11:03 for his 14th. Remenda got his second goal in two games, pounding in a rebound at 19:12.

In the third, Keagan Jones pounced on a loose puck in the Lakers’ crease for his 5th of the year at 2:57 on a Stars’ powerplay. Weeks added a powerplay marker at 4:02 to put the game away at 6-1 Stars. Landon Lowes got one back for Fort Frances just 19 seconds later, re-directing Remington Richardson’s pass. Jordan’s snipe from a tough angle at 12:44 on yet another Thunder Bay powerplay restored a five-goal cushion for Thunder Bay. Pierce Gouin’s 6th at 14:13 closed out the scoring.

After a one minor penalty first period, things heated up in the second and third. The Stars were assessed 28 penalty minutes to the Lakers’ 18. 

Connor Larrett and Skillestad had two assists each for Thunder Bay. Orchard handled 35 of the 42 shots sent his way in the Laker net.

Kenora 2 at Sioux Lookout 7 Friday

The Islanders unleashed 60 shots but Sioux Lookout’s Matthew Spencer-Dahl stopped all but two of them as the Bombers pulled away with a 7-2 win before 321 patrons at the Hangar. Tyler Kirk led the offensive charge with two goals and an assist, while Connor Burke, Rylen Leroux and Jonah Smith all had two points each for the victorious first-place Bombers. 

Sioux Lookout took a 2-0 first period lead, but Kenora fought back to tie it with two quick ones early in the second.

Rylen Leroux got his first of the season at 1:23 and Blake Burke got his 12th on a feed from Dayvan Bull at 3:57 as the Bombers took a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes, despite being outshot 14-8. 

Aaron Bertschinger scored his 11th for Kenora 38 seconds into period two. Spencer-Dahl blockered his shot high into the air, but it eventually fluttered into the net to narrow the score to 2-1. Chance Traverse got his second goal of the year, and Grady Priest picked up his first assist of year as the Islanders tied the game at 2-2 on the powerplay. The Bombers’ Ty Kirk put Sioux Lookout ahead to stay at 4:05 of the second when the puck got tied up in Connor Dunham-Fox’ equipment and settled beyond the goal line.

Connor Burke, Tait Howell, Jonah Smith shorthanded, and Kirk with 16 seconds left scored four unanswered goals in the third to render the final decision.

Sioux Lookout’s 11th consecutive win enabled them to remain in first by a point.

Dunham-Fox stopped 21 of 28 in the loss. Spencer-Dahl leads the SIJHL in save percentage and goals against with gaudy .955/1.74 numbers. 

Kenora was 0-5 with the man advantage. Sioux Lookout was 1-6. The Islanders took 29 penalty minutes to Sioux Lookout’s 20.

Kenora 1 at Sioux Lookout 6 Saturday 

Sioux Lookout fired 62 shots and the Connor and Blake Burke led a balanced attack with a goal and assist each as the Bombers took it to the Islanders with a 6-1 romp at home. The Bombers ran their winning streak to 12. They also took a three-point lead over Kam River in the battle for first. 

Jack Osmond stopped 26 of 27 to improve to 12-4-1 on the year. Matt Stephens thwarted 56 shots in the Islander net.

Connor Burke, Dayvan Bull and Tait Howell built a 3-0 first period lead. Ty Kirk upped the ante to 4-0 midway through the second before Aaron Bertschinger’s 12th on an Islander powerplay at 18:18 erased Osmond’s shutout bid.

Bull’s goal was his 9th of the year. Bull leads all SIJHL in goals and points, with 28.

Blake Burke tallied at 14:47 of the third and Ty Lone scored unassisted with 12 seconds left to polish off a convincing victory before 370 fans.

Kenora was 1-3 on the powerplay and shut down Sioux Lookout on eight powerplay chances. Kenora was assessed 28 minutes in penalties to 20 for the Bombers.

Owen Riffel garnered an assist to tie EJ Paddington atop the SIJHL leaderboard with 44 points. Riffel leads the league in goals with 24.

Blake Burke has 36 points and Connor Burke has 35 to sit 6th and 7th in the scoring race respectively.

Kam River 8 at Wisconsin 2 Friday

Max Wright had a two goals and an assist, Kaden Goodwin had three helpers and Ashton Sadauskas won his 16th game in a row with a 27-save effort as Kam River rolled to an 8-2 win over the hometown Lumberjacks. Sadauskas hasn’t lost since September 22, 2023. Thirteen Walleye players recorded at least a point.

Rookie Riley Burnett faced 47 shots in the Wisconsin net, and saw his record even out at a win and a loss.

Ryan Doucette, Carter Poddubny, Jeremy Dunmore and Matteo Salvatore gave Kam River a 4-0 lead by 16:42 of the first period. Collin Baker got Wisconsin on the board at 17:07 of the initial frame.

Wright, Caleb Labelle and Carter Nailen’s powerplay goal upped the lead to 7-1 after 40 minutes. 

Wisconsin’s Marshall Thomas and Wright scored in the third to round out the scoring.

Dunmore and Nailen also had assists. Riley Borody and Liam Bell had two assists for Kam River. A total of 88 penalty minutes were assessed with seven 10-minute misconducts inflating the total. The Walleye were 1-1 on the powerplay while Wisconsin was held scoreless in two chances.

The Walleye, on a five game points streak, are a point behind Sioux Lookout in the battle for first place.

Kam River 5 at Wisconsin 7 Saturday

Dillon Phillips scored three and Wisconsin erupted for five consecutive third period goals–four of them in 123 seconds–as the Lumberjacks defeated Kam River 7-5 before 352 fans in Spooner.

Kam River crafted a 2-0 lead, Wisconsin battled back to tie it, Carter Nailen put the Walleye ahead 3-2 at 31 seconds of the third but the ‘Jacks exploded for five in a row to forge a 7-3 lead with five minutes to go. Riley Borody counted two in the final stages to round out the scoring.

Ryan Doucette got the lone goal of the first period, getting his 12th on a Walleye powerplay at 18:20.

Bronson Babyak got his first SIJHL goal from in close as Kam River doubled their lead at 3:23 of the second. Phillips got his first goal unassisted at 9:13 to shave the lead and Koen Burkholder tied it at 13:04.

Eight goals were scored in the third. Jett Mintenko’s blind pass to Nailen resulted in a 3-2 Walleye lead early in the third. Wisconsin responded with four goals in a 2:03 span starting with Phillips’ breakaway goal at 5:25. Burkholder bulled his way into the Walleye zone, fed Collin Baker, who beat Walleye starter Travis VanderZwaag at 6:24 to give Wisconsin their first lead of the game. Seven seconds later Simon Davidson lasered in his 6th of the year, and Nolan Fowler’s 12th at 7:28 had the Lumberjacks up by three. Ashton Sadauskas came on in relief of VanderZwaag with 12:32 to go.

Phillips completed his hat trick (two caps hit the ice) at 14:53 into an empty net as the Walleye had pulled Sadauskas with six minutes to go for a 7-3 lead. Borody struck for his 10th and 11th at 17:15 and 19:03 to make it 7-5.

VanderZwaag’s record dropped to 5-4-1 while Rylan Freshwater won his 6th in 10 games with 32 saves. Kam River outshot Wisconsin 37-23.

The third game of the series is rescheduled for March as the Green Bay Packers intercepted the Sunday afternoon tilt.

Phillips added an assist for four points. Burkholder and Fowler had a goal and assist each, and Connor Corcoran and Zach Johnson has two helpers each. Brydon Bell had two assists for the Walleye.

Wisconsin took 29 penalty minutes to Kam River’s eight. 

The Walleye fell three points off the pace in the race for first.