Photos: Kerri-Ann Kanceruk

By Gary Moskalyk 

Fort Frances 3 at Dryden 5 Friday 

James Hooton scored two goals in his first game back, Rylan Maier scored his 11th and 12th, and Ewan Soutar made 20 saves as the Dryden Ice Dogs defeated the Fort Frances Lakers 5-3 before 254 fans in Dryden.

The Lakers, on a 13-game winless streak, gave the Ice Dogs everything they could handle. 

The teams battled through a scoreless first, and were tied 2-2 after two periods before Dryden pulled away with their fourth win a row.

Clark Scaddan fired in a loose puck at the expiration of a Laker powerplay to open the scoring at 1:04 of the middle frame. Dryden’s Maier backhanded in his 11th with assists going to Eli Antoine and Bryce Benfield at 9:21 to tie it. Magnus Pearson, enjoying an expanded role with the Lakers, garnered his 4th on a Fort Frances’ powerplay at 13:37. Hooton, recovered from an off-season injury, won a faceoff deep in the Laker zone, and was Johnny on the spot when Ben Coatham’s point shot deflected off McLaren Paulsen and on to his stick at 18:12 to tie the game.

Hooton put Dryden ahead at 35 seconds of the third, capitalizing on a Laker giveaway to score unassisted. The lead didn’t last long. Landon Lowes scored for Fort on a re-direct with Brandon Gustafson to knot the score at 3-all 1:29 later.

Sebastiano Biagi’s point shot found the twine for the game winner at 5:33. Maier potted his second at 15:41 to put a little insurance on the final verdict. Jack Orchard was pulled for an extra attacker to no avail.

Biagi added an assist for a two-point night and Antoine had two assists for Dryden. Jack Wood had two assist for Fort Frances.

Soutar bought his record to 11-6-1 with a 20-save evening, while Orchard turned aside 39 of 44 in the loss.

Referees Whitney Van Horne and Steve Anderson handed out six minors to Fort Frances and flagged Dryden for seven infractions. The Lakers scored one on the powerplay and snuffed out five Dryden powerplays. 

Sioux Lookout 1 at Dryden 3 Saturday 

Ewan Soutar stopped 38 of 39 and James Hooton got his third goal in two games as the Dryden Ice Dogs defeated the Sioux Lookout Bombers 3-1 before 368 fans in Dryden.

Hooton intercepted a clearing pass and walked in alone, unleashing a wrister glove side on Jack Osmond, to open the scoring at 7:04 of the first. 

Ty Lone tied it up with less than a minute gone in the second. Lone somehow got a stick on Dayvan Bull’s point shot while off balance and deflected it high past Soutar for his 6th. Bull picked up the primary assist–his 22nd assist of the season–while Connor Burke registered his 20th helper.

The TSN turning point was easy to pick out: Soutar made a 10-bell save in the Dryden net, and the play turned up ice to see Dryden take the lead. Sioux Lookout’s Tait Howell was stoned by Soutar on a 2-on-0. Dryden’s Sean Smith collected the rebound and fed a streaking Carson Devine, who worked himself into the clear on a breakaway. His cannonating drive blew past Osmond at 15:39 of the middle frame on what turned out to be the game winner.

Two of the league’s premier goalies battled it out from opening whistle to final horn. Carson Johnstone pulled Osmond for an extra attacker with 1:52 left. Max Roby’s empty netter unassisted at 18:21 put the Ice Dogs up 3-1. The Bombers had a couple of looks but no results with the extra man. 

Dryden won their 5th in a row, climbing to a point back of second place Kam River and Thunder Bay, and pulling to within five points of the first place Bombers. 

Osmond stopped 35 of 37 in the Bomber net, actually lowering his goals against from 2.23 to 2.22 in the loss. Soutar improved to 12-6-1 with a 2.41 GAA and .924 save percentage.

The Bombers were 0-6 with the man advantage while Dryden was 0-2.

Sioux Lookout took two minor penalties (and a 10-minute misconduct) while the Ice Dogs had six minors.

Wisconsin at Kenora Postponed 

Fort Frances 2 at Sioux Lookout 5 Tuesday

Kaden Veller, Cobe Delaney and Ty Lone had a goal and assist each, and Matthew Ofukany picked up his first win in nearly two months as Sioux Lookout defeated Fort Frances 5-2 before 402 fans at the Hangar. The Bombers picked up some secondary scoring and Ofukany shunted aside 31 of 33 shots en route to his 4th win without a loss.

The Bombers, firing on all cylinders, are six points clear of Kam River for first place, and have points in 15 consecutive games–14 of them wins.

The Lakers extended their winless streak to 12.

Veller’s point shot got past Lakers’ goaltender Lukas Toth midway through the first frame to open the scoring. 

The Bombers tacked on three more in the second to open up a 4-0 lead.

Connor Burke deflected home Veller’s point shot at 1:59 for his 18th. Lone scored a shorthanded goal unassisted from the top of the right circle for his 5th, and Jonah Smith backhanded in his 13th from in tight at 13:59.

The Lakers put up a battle in the third. Magnus Pearson got his 3rd of the year from the slot at 2:40 to narrow the lead to three. Jack Wood’s wrister from distance beat Ofukany high over the blocker side shoulder to put the Lakers to within two.

Delaney sealed the win with a steal at the Laker blue-line, rumbling in on a breakaway and parking it past Toth for his 9th at 12:13.

Fort Frances took 36 penalty minutes in the game. The Bombers had just four minor penalties, pushing their season total 500 penalty minutes on the year, the last team in the SIJHL to get there.

The Bombers were scoreless in five powerplay attempts, while Fort Frances was blanked twice.  

Wisconsin 3 at Thunder Bay 7 Friday

Thunder Bay’s first home game in over a month proved successful as the Stars overcame a pair of first period deficits with a 7-3 win over Wisconsin before 497 fans. Edison Weeks and Keagan Jones each scored once and assisted on two, Easton Mikus scored numbers 22 and 23, EJ Paddington had a goal and assist, and Carter Anton had two helpers to power Thunder Bay to their 6th win a row.

The Stars split up their top line of Paddington, Weeks and Mikus to spread the wealth and Jones has five points in his last two games as a result.

Still, the Lumberjacks were in it until the very end.

Collin Baker netted his 9th on a Wisconsin powerplay at 5:10 to open the scoring. Max Buffone was credited with his second of the year at 14:57. A Wisconsin defenceman accidently shot the puck into his own net to tie the game on the play. Nolan Fowler re-established Wisconsin’s lead with a close-in snipe on Keenan Marks just 32 seconds later. Mikus tied the game from the slot at 16:26  on a perfect feed from Conner Larrett. Weeks completed the flurry of first period goals, accepting a backhanded pass from Jones and firing home his 19th. 

Offensively, the game settled down in the second. Wisconsin had a premium chance three minutes in. Zach Johnson and Fowler barreled in on 2-on-0, only to have Marks make an unbelievable save on Fowler’s forehand attempt. 

 A pair of backhanders, Weeks’ backhanded pass to Jones, and Jones’ backhander past Wisconsin starter William Forrester, put Thunder Bay up 4-2 at 17:08 entering the third.

Ryan Kayser’s 5th of the year on a Lumberjacks’ powerplay pulled the ‘Jacks to within one at 7:08. Mikus re-established Thunder Bay’s two-goal spread with a one-timer at 10:48. The Stars took a double-minor at 12:20 opening the door for a possible comeback. Wisconsin, with two powerplay goals already in their pocket, were stymied. Paddington pounced on a rebound for his 18th at 17:14 and Owen Doherty rounded out the scoring, collecting Easton Glousher’s rebound for his 3rd of the campaign.

Marks won his 14th with a 21-save effort while William Forrester faced 50 shots in a losing effort.

Wisconsin finished 2-6 on the powerplay while shutting down four Thunder Bay powerplays. The Stars took seven of the 12 minor penalties handed out by Lance Dysievick and Adam Massaro. 

Wisconsin 2 at Thunder Bay 4 Saturday 

Thunder Bay ran their winning streak to seven games with a 4-2 win over visiting Wisconsin. Ben Laurette won his second start with a 35-save performance, and EJ Paddington joined teammate Edison Weeks in the 50-point club with three points. 

Koen Burkholder cashed in a rebound at 3:32 of the first to give the Lumberjacks the early edge. Easton Mikus banked one off Riley Burnett from behind the net with 14 seconds left in the period for his 24th–tying him with Sioux Lookout’s Owen Riffel for the league lead, and tie the game at 1-1. 

Paddington’s high snipe over Burnett’s should put the Stars ahead 2-1 at 6:51 of the second. Collin Baker tied the game, cashing in a rebound from the blue paint at 14:54. Newly acquired Christian Rapp, a 6-6, 179-lb forward from Michigan, scored the game winner for Thunder Bay from the high slot at 15:41.

Edison Weeks scored the only goal of the third period, swatting home his 20th of the season at 1:17. 

Burnett took the loss in the Wisconsin net, turning aside 38 of 42. 

Cameron Dial collected two assists for Thunder Bay. Wisconsin killed off three North Stars powerplays while Thunder Bay snuffed out four Lumberjack opportunities.

Attendance was 492.

Kam River 8 at Red Lake 4 Friday 

Kam River served notice early and often scoring four in the first, and three more in the second en route to a 8-4 win in Red Lake.

Braeden Duchesne polished off a three-way passing play with Liam Bell and Jett Mintenko for his 13th just 22 seconds into the game. Matteo Salvatore upped the score to 2-0 with a backhand over Jackson Pundyk’s glove at 6:15. The teams exchanged two goals each starting at 14:08 with Ethan Cerone’s shorthanded marker. Kaden Goodwin and Jeremy Dunmore scored 56 seconds apart to open up a three-goal cushion before Bradyn Rowsell’s long shot handcuffed Ashton Sadauskas to narrow the deficit to two.

Noah Davis came on in relief of Pundyk to start the second and finish the game.

Kam River scored three of the four second period goals to up their lead to four goals after 40 minutes.

Isiah Kinnavanthong collected a rebound for his third at 2:21 for a 5-2 Kam River lead. Aiden Corbett shaved the Walleye lead to 5-3 with a Red Lake powerplay marker at 5:51. Nickolas Fagnilli notched a pair at 6:55 and 10:17 to give the Walleye a 7-3 lead heading into the third.

Kyle Grysiuk pulled the Miners to within three with an unassisted effort at 13:29. Dunmore’s 20th finish off the scoring at 15:11.

Kam River climbed to within four points of first-place Sioux Lookout. The Walleye have two games in hand.

Dunmore and Fagnilli led the Walleye offense with two goals each. Fagnilli also had an assist. Duchesne and Kinnavanthong had two points, Mintenko had three assists and Jacob Sargent kicked in two helpers. 

Sadauskas won his 18th with 21 saves. Pundyk made nine saves in the first. Noah Davis had 16 saves over 40 minutes and was tagged with the loss.

The Miners won the special teams battle, scoring one on the powerplay while killing off all six Walleye man advantages.

Red Lake took 21 penalty minutes to 14 for the Walleye.

Kam River 1 at Red Lake 2 Saturday 

Kam River outshot the Miners 41 to 22, but Noah Davis stopped 40 and Red Lake struck for a pair of powerplay goals to defeat the Walleye 2-1 in Cochenour Arena. Three points separated second place from fifth place after the game and things could tighten even further pending Sunday’s result.

Preston Tauter’s re-direct at 15:19 of the first period on a shot from Jared Burnett on a Miners’ powerplay gave the home town boys a 1-0 lead. The game winner happened early in the game but late in the first. Aiden Corbett’s one-timer beat Travis VanderZwaag with 11 seconds left in the frame–Red Lake’s second powerplay marker–to make it 2-0. Corbett collected his 22nd with Noah Tenney and Luke DeCorby assisting. 

Caleb Labelle scored at 2:51 of the second period to draw the Walleye closer. Labelle’s point shot went five-hole on Davis for his 3rd. Evan Lachimea garnered his first assist of the season with Jeremy Dunmore picking up his 20th.

From there VanderZwaag and Davis shut the door. Kam River head coach Jesse Messier pulled VanderZwaag with 2:36 left but the Walleye couldn’t solve Davis for the equalizer.

It was a physical game. A total of 54 penalty minutes were meted out. Red Lake struck gold on two of nine powerplay chances while killing off all nine Walleye opportunities.

Kam River 3 at Red Lake 6 Sunday 

Red Lake scored three more on the powerplay and killed off six Walleye powerplays, Jackson Pundyk stopped 33 of 36, and Gabe Tanton led the offence with three points as the Miners defeated Kam River 6-3. The SIJHL standings went from crazy to insane. Sioux Lookout leads the league by four points. The next four teams are separated by a point. Thunder Bay and Kam River have 47, Red Lake and Dryden have 46.

Five goals were scored in the first period. Red Lake held a three-goal lead but late goals by Kam River made it 3-2 after one.

Luke DeCorby scored his 12th on assists from Aiden Corbett and Noah Tenney at 8:05, going high glove side on Ashton Sadauskas for the Miners’ first powerplay strike. Andrew Sikora’s one-timer from the slot doubled the lead midway through and Ryker Watt tapped in his 9th from the edge of crease at 17:02 for the three-goal edge.

Before you could say ‘the Miners played a perfect period’ they didn’t. Ryan Daponte won a draw deep in the Miners’ zone to defenceman Jacob Sargent, went to the crease area, and picked up Sargent’s rebound for his 2nd of the year at 18:40. Kaden Goodwin scored on a re-direct with 14 seconds left to make it 3-2.

Red Lake scored three of the four goals scored in the second frame to re-establish control of the game.

Jared Burnett’s point shot wrister through traffic on a Red Lake powerplay gave the Miners a 4-2 lead. Carter Poddubny notched his 16th from a sharp angle to narrow the lead to one. Tanton’s point shot found the twine at 13:38 and Ethan Cerone connected on a rebound putting it through Sadauskas’ pads to close out the scoring at 17:49. Cerone’s 8th was Red Lake’s third powerplay goal.

The third period was scoreless.

Kam River replaced Sadauskas with Travis VanderZwaag in the third. After two physical periods the game settled down until coincidental minors were called at the end of the game. Sadauskas stopped 27 of 33 in his two periods. VanderZwaag made eight stops.

The Miners were 3-7 on the powerplay, while Kam River was 0-6. The Fighting Walleye took 44 of 66 penalty minutes. 

Carter Deschamps and Aiden Corbett had two assists each for Red Lake.

Kenora 2 at Fort Frances 3 Saturday 

Brady Krentz scored with two seconds left as Fort Frances defeated Kenora 3-2 before 406 fans at Ice For Kids Arena. Jack Orchard made 53 saves for his 4th win of the year. Both teams are in a desperate search for points. The Lakers ended a 13-game slide with the win. It was a bone crushing loss for the Islanders, who outshot the Lakers 55-39 in one of their best games of the year. 

Despite 29 first period shots the game was scoreless through 20 minutes.

Brody Lindal won the draw, drove to the net, and scored on Islander goaltender Matthew Stephens at 4:39 of the second to get the Lakers on the board. Brayden Mackay replied less than two minutes later, converting a nice feed from Ezekiel Kirkness for his 7th.

In the third frame, Emry Bunting’s shot from the point went high glove side on  Orchard for a 2-1 Kenora lead. It was Bunting’s first goal of the year. Jack Wood’s point shot past a screened Stephens tied the game at 2-2.

Lindal crashed into goaltender Stephens with 33 seconds left in regulation to halt the game for several minutes. No malice was intended on the play. Stephens was attended to by the trainers with back-up goaltender Connor Dunham-Fox waiting in the wings. With Kleenex in his nose Stephens donned his mask and soldiered on. The game had overtime written all over it, but the Lakers got the puck at the Islander blue-line with six seconds left. Clark Scaddan sent the puck towards the net and Krentz fired home a loose puck for the game winner.

It was a classic game with a classy finish to it as well. Several players from both teams chatted after the contest, tapping pads, knowing they had played in a game none of them will ever forget.

Krentz added two assists for a three-point night, and Lindal had an assist to go with his goal. 

Kenora was 0-3 on the powerplay while Fort was 1-4. The Islanders took six minors to the Lakers four.