SIJHL Hockey Action – North Stars Vs Ice Dogs

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The puck has dropped at Fort William Gardens
The game is underway at Fort William Gardens
The puck has dropped at Fort William Gardens
The game is underway at Fort William Gardens

THUNDER BAY- SPORTS – The weather is more like spring, and if the Dryden Ice Dogs are planning to head home after tonight’s game they might check the weather updates, as fog is forecast for much of Northwestern Ontario. It is a perfect night in Thunder Bay however for SIJHL hockey!

The North Stars are hoping to erase the memory of lastnight’s loss, a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of the Ice Dogs.

Tonight the North Stars are starting #30 Joseph Lynch in goal.

The opening period is off to a fast start, with the slick ice surface offering extra jets to the skaters.

Lynch was tested early with a slap-shot from Winter of the Ice Dogs.

Matt Kaarela and the North Stars bench
Matt Kaarela and the North Stars bench

Halfway through the First Period of action the play is fast, so far the referees are letting the players set the pace. The Ice Dogs have had the better scoring chances, but they have been held off by Lynch, who has had to scramble a few times.

There is however something that must be said about the Fort William Garden’s hotdogs. Topped up with hot banana peppers, they are a tasty treat, and based on the fans enjoying snacks, it is a popular choice. And there you are, a hockey fan sitting at home wishing that ‘Hockey Night’ would come on the television. 

Dryden has been called for a bench penalty for too many men on the ice, the penalty will be served by #5 Jake Berrey, time of the penalty 13:29.

The power play didn’t last long, #21 Bryce Martyn got the gate for tripping at 14:26 putting the teams at even strength.

Kolton Kahoot did a fantastic single handed effort of fore-checking to hem the Ice Dogs in their end for almost 25 seconds of the penalty. He doggedly hunted the puck forcing the Dogs to finally regroup.

#14 Dylan Mascarin got off the best scoring chance for the N-Stars of the period, narrowly missing giving the home team the lead.

The hard work was finally rewarded as the North Stars put the puck behind Eric Szymczyk to take a one goal lead with 1:51 left in the first period. The goal came after some great passing in front of the Dryden net. Scoring for the North Stars was # Matt Kaarela assisted by #28 Paul Hynnes and #26 Paul Zysko. 

Through the first twenty minutes of play this is a far more focused and determined North Stars hockey team that has shown up tonight.

Shots on goal in the First: North Stars 13 Ice Dogs 12,

Second Period Action

Kaarela is off to a fast start in the second getting off a blistering wrist shot on net. The North Stars are playing very serious and disciplined hockey tonight. Unlike last night, there are not the frequent trips to the sin bin.

After a mix up in front of the North Stars net, Bryce Martyn’s grin could be seen from the stands, The North Stars are refusing to get entangled into foolish penalties.

The N-Stars are continuing to press. #17 Wade Garbett, breaking in on net got off another great scoring chance. Dryden’s goaltender is facing a test tonight. So far he is proving a solid wall backing up the Dogs for the most part.

However the North Stars are working hard to take down that wall. On another rush into the Dryden end, #8 scored on a solid play. Assisting on the goal were #4 Matt Kaarela and #19 Mitchell Fox . Time of the North Stars goal 5:13.

#14 Dylan Mascarin gets the box with 13:12 left as he is tagged with cross-checking. The Ice Dog are getting a chance to get in the game. 

The North Stars #8 Mathias Gardiman got fed the puck by Matt Kaarela and on a partial breakaway has the North Stars up by three. The short-handed goal came at 7:58.

Fans who might have decided to stay home tonight are missing some really solid hockey.

# 7 Mason Prout got off a strong slapshot on net, that was gloved by Eric Szymczyk. #9 of the Ice Dogs almost got Dryden into the game with a blistering shot that was handled by Lynch who then scrambled to cover the rebound. 

#14 of the North Stars was leveled at centre ice in a hard hit that shattered his visor. The training staff sped onto the ice to ensure the player was alright, but he got to the bench under his own steam. #25 Jesse Linner for Dryden was tagged for checking from behind and in additon to the two minutes in the sin bin gets an automatic game misconduct.

Showing why he is leading the North Stars in scoring Kaarela got off another shot. Tonight the home team is shooting the puck more. That aggressive offense is keeping the confidence level up and keeping the Ice Dogs looking out for what will happen next.

#7 Mason Prout got the box at 12:50 for tripping, putting the teams on even strength for 41 seconds and then a 1:19 minute Dryden power play.

Dryden capitalized on the power play and put the puck behind Lynch on a shot by #16 Chris Belhumeur on a spinning shot. The goal, Dryden’s first of the night was assisted #17 Austin Lewis and #8 Len Pelletier . Time of the goal 14:19.

Despite the Ice Dogs scoring, the inspired play of the North Stars has the fans in the stands cheering on the team. 

Dryden almost scored with three minutes left in the first. and then with 2:14 left in the period put the puck behind Lynch, bringing the Dogs within one goal.

Goal was scored by Austin Lewis, assisted by Chris Belhumeur,  and Tyson Holder  at 17:46.

The period finished off with some chippy play as the teams were raking in penalties. North Star Dylan Mascarin was called for roughing and for the Ice Dogs, Mike Butler drew the referee’s ire for unsportsmanlike conduct at 18:35.

Third Period Action

The third period is underway, and play is looking a little chippy as the Ice Dogs are looking to drag the North Stars into penalty games. The teams have the opportunity to skate to a finish here, in what has been a very entertaining game.  

At the four minute mark, Matt Kaarela centred the puck and put Paul Zysko into scoring position. Only a strong save by the Dryden goalie kept the puck out.

#12 Cole Sonstebo for the Ice Dogs got off on a break-away and while the puck dribbled behind Lynch speedy work by the North Stars defense saved the goal.

That lucky move seems to have re-focused the North Stars, and for the past three minutes of play the puck has been hemmed up in the Ice Dogs zone. 

With ten minutes left, the North Stars are holding onto a one goal lead, and are back to playing solid hockey and ignoring the opportunity to engage in foolish penalties. That is a solid move for a young team.

With six minutes left, the N-Stars are pressing. The Kaarela line working hard almost scored on a solid rush.

Lynch in the following rush was injured and is being replaced by Jayme Brattengeier, Lynch left the ice under his own power, but looked in obvious pain. Tonight’s effort is Lynch’s debut game with Thunder Bay. 

Dryden looking to test Brattengeier crowded the net leading to #25 Alexandre Lacroix standing up for his goaltender and getting tagged for two minutes for cross-checking at 15:06.

The N-Stars killed off the first minute of the penalty like it was an even strength match. For the second minute of the penalty, the Ice Dogs pressed and the North Stars goalie remained a wall.

#24 Ryan Wilgosh of the Ice Dogs lambasted a shot at the North Stars with a great slapshot from the point. 

Dryden has pulled their goalie for the last minutes of the game, giving them a skater advantage. There is obvious frustration on the Ice Dogs ranks as #9 Tyson Holder was open and no one passed the puck to him. He complained to his teammate over missing the opening.

Final score tonight in a well played game North Stars 3 and the Ice Dogs 2.

The North Stars are at home next weekend playing the Minnesota Iron Rangers.

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