THUNDER BAY – The SIJHL North Stars are taking on the Minnesota Wilderness in hockey action tonight from the Fort William Gardens.
The North Stars have lost two of the three games in the home stand. The Minnesota Wilderness are leading the league, and showed in both games that their stamina is longer than other teams. North Stars President Doug Gunsinger promises that the North Stars are going to be a longer lasting team come playoff time.
The President says that the team will be working on cardio over the coming weeks to get up to full speed for the playoffs.
The Minnesota Wilderness promise to be a tough opponent tonight as the N-Stars seek to send home the message to their fans that they mean business.
SIJHL First Period Action
The teams are at it. Play is very fast in the opening moments of tonight’s game. The North Stars are being pressed early by the Wilderness.
#10 MacKeon got off a sharp shot on North Stars net, but it was handled by the goalie.
#4 Matt Kaarella is off for two minutes, with 16:46 left in the first. The North Stars leading scorer for the season has seemed a little frustrated in each of the two games this weekend. The Wilderness are up with six shots on net and so far the N-Stars have not got a shot on goal.
The North Stars scrambled to keep the puck out of the net, with the Wilderness pressing very hard. At one point right at the end of the penalty to Kaarella, the net was open but the North Stars managed to gain control.
#8 for the North Stars, came flying in on net and barely missed with a rising shot that carried just over the net.
#19 Shockley of the Wilderness at 7:46 gets to spend the next two minutes in the sin bin, the ref caught him cross checking.
Wilderness player #8 Johnson flying into the North Stars zone on a near breakaway almost scored on the short handed situation.
Matt Kaarella is pushing hard tonight for the N-Stars. A couple of very smart passes led to a great shot from the point by #4 that almost scored.
With seven minutes left in the first period, the game remains scoreless. The Wilderness are playing with calm confidence and the North Stars are pushing hard. Matt Kaarela is flying tonight. The North Stars are behind on shots on net, but are getting the better scoring opportunities so far.
#9 Johnson has been carrying himself with solid shooting, he just got off a real drifter of a shot on the goal that was deflected away at the last moment.
The Wilderness are testing the North Stars tonight, but the North Stars are hitting hard. Anyone who says the SIJHL doesn’t offer top speed hockey just has not been paying attention.
The first period has ended with no score, the Wilderness are outshooting the North Stars 15-7.
SIJHL Second Period Action
Play is underway in the second period. The North Stars appear more feisty so far and less willing to let the visiting Wilderness skate over them. The Garden’s boards are echoing with the rocking hits.
Kaarela is seeming to be trying to carry the rest of the North Stars up the hill.
Breaking into the Wilderness zone, Kaarela kept the puck and slammed a solid wrist shot just wide of the goal.
At 6:50 it is penalty time, Kaarella cross-checking and #19 Adam Restoule for roughing are in the box for the North Stars along with # of the Wilderness for roughing.
On the power play, the Wilderness have hemmed in the home team, and have peppered Jayme Bratengeir with shots.
#16 Alex Vaillaint was tagged for slashing.
The Wilderness power play connected at 9:24 and the score is 1-0 Wilderness. Goal was scored by #9 assisted by #27 and #24
#15 Kolton Kahoot for the North Stars and #4 of the Wilderness got the fists flying. Kahoot got the worst of the bout, double minors for the Wilderness are the result. Both players are gone for the rest of the game. The Wilderness get the instigating penalty, and a five minute major for fighting.
The whistles are coming more frequently now, as #4 Kaarela is off to cool his jets. Slashing was called on Kaarela.
10:42 the time of the penalty.
Play is getting chippy.
Perhaps the contrast between the teams is that with the Wilderness, the players are content to pass and in many cases the North Stars are looking to score and get the goal. The patience of the Wilderness is winning them games.
With just under seven minutes left in the second, play has slowed down the teams seem to be saving energy.
Not too much energy, the Wilderness coming in on a two on one put the puck into the net behind Bratengeier. Time of the goal, #25 Haskin and #10 McKeon at 13:49.
At 17:18, #27 Cary Brown headed to the penalty box for slashing.
Once again the Wilderness power play clicked with 52 seconds left in the power play #27 Olsen scored making it 3-0 for the visiting team – time of the goal 18:26.
Through the second period, the North Stars are down 3-0 and behind on scoring opportunities with the wilderness having 29 shots on net to 12 for the North Stars.
The home team has to stay out of the penalty box against the Wilderness.
SIJHL Third Period Action
The North Stars took little time to find the penalty box, #19 Adam Restoule headed to the penalty box at 0:57 seconds.
The Wilderness are passing with precision, and it feels a little like a scoring storm surge might be headed against the North Stars.
Restoule is out of the box. but appears to be looking to seek some revenge for the slash that put him in the penalty box for retaliating against the Wilderness.
#6 Tim Caver took on #17 Helan (sp?) in fist action and has been sent to the dressing room. The Wilderness player took the worst to the punches, as Caver got on top of the Minnesota player and bounded his fist off his helmet. The N-Stars are frustrated, and seem to feel that if they can’t beat the Wilderness on the scoreboard they might as well try beating them up.
The North Stars drew the extra penalty for fighting and will end up down a man for three minutes.
Once again the Wilderness Power play clicked leading to a four to nothing lead. Time of the goal, 8:59 Johnson scored (his second of the game).
Shots on goal with nine minutes left Wilderness 41 and North Stars 15.
The weather in Thunder Bay tonight is snowing heavily. Likely fans in the Gardens will have lots of work to clean off their vehicles to head home tonight.
Not many are leaving early though.
Kaarela just rewarded them with a break-a-way goal to break the shut out bid by the Wilderness.
It was a very pretty goal as Kaarela bore down on net you could sense it was going in.
Assisted by #8 Gardiman on a short-handed goal.
There are six minutes left in the game. The North Stars have stepped up their play. Perhaps sensing that the visitors might be wearing down after three games in three nights.
The North Stars #19 Adam Restoule drew a ten minute misconduct. Once again the Wilderness pounced taking back their four goal lead. At 15:22 Larsen from Dietrich.
Four minutes left.