THUNDER BAY – Sports – The Thunder Bay North Stars made the crowd at the Fort William Gardens very happy tonight. With a win in overtime over the Wisconsin Wilderness, the North Stars are still in the hunt for the Dudley Hewitt Cup. It was a very solid game overall for the North Stars. The team came out flying in the first period, and were not daunted by having their backs to the wall.
The win puts the North Stars up on Friday night against the Soo Thunderbirds in the Semi-Final of the Dudley Hewitt Cup.
The North Stars got off the mark in the first period with Matt Kaarela scoring a shorthanded and unassisted goal at 7:05. The goal brought the fans into the game. However the Wilderness remained playing strong hockey through the first period.
Their hard work was rewarded with a pair of goals late in the first period. The North Stars dug themselves a penalty hole and Patrick Hurley scored on a powerplay assisted by Lucas Hendrickson and Jeremy Johnson at 17:14 of the first. That goal was followed by Mike Dietrich also scoring on the powerplay, assisted by Clark Anderson and Zach Blaisdell at 18:49 of the first.
In the second period, both teams played hard, with the North Stars charging hard through the period. Quinn Rempel tied the game at a pair at the 3:50 mark assisted by Brandon Wolframe and Kyle Lapenskie. The teams seemed to settle down during the second period. The North Stars stayed out of the penalty box far more than in the first period.
The third period saw the Wilderness edge ahead again. Shane Topf scored at 2:49 assisted by Anthony Calabrese and Andre Rakas.
There were a group of young die-hard North Stars fans who picked up the chant “Let’s go North Stars” and were pounding their Royal Bank Thunder Sticks on the glass behind the North Stars bench. The Stars seemed to draw extra energy from the young fans. and at 13:27 Brennen Dubchak tied up the game assisted by Matthew Alexander and Marc Nother.
As the game headed to overtime, the fans generated lots of noise and boosted the energy in the Fort William Gardens. Brennen Dubchak was called for holding a Wilderness player’s stick at 4:55 and put the North Stars into a great two minute penalty kill.
The North Stars generated two glorious chances early in the OT as Joshua Blacksmith was thwarted by a sprawling Wilderness goalkeeper while another defenceman in Tyler Osborne rang one off the post.
The North Stars won it as Kaarela fed Dubchak in close on a mini two-on-one and he lifted it over a sprawled Milliron to send the Stars into the final while ending the season for Wisconsin.
The North Stars players earned a hard fought win tonight, and are now back on track to win.
Photography by James Mirabelli
With Files from SIJHL Communications