SIJHL Playoffs – Thunder Bay North Stars Minnesota Iron Rangers

SIJHL Playoff Action
SIJHL Iron Rangers warming up at the Fort William Gardens for Game One - Photo by Georgia Wenjack
SIJHL Playoff Action
SIJHL Iron Rangers warming up at the Fort William Gardens for Game One

THUNDER BAY – Sports – The Thunder Bay North Stars are on the playoff hunt tonight at Fort William Gardens. The Minnesota Iron Rangers are in Thunder Bay to take on the home town favourites.

SIJHL Playoffs – Thunder Bay North Stars Minnesota Iron Rangers

The North Stars are playing Game One of a best of three series. the Thunder Bay North Stars edged the visiting Fort Frances Lakers 3-2 Wednesday in the Superior International Junior Hockey League regular season finale at the Fort William Gardens.

The win will hopefully put momentum for the N-Stars.

First Period Action

The teams are off to a fast start. The North Stars won the opening faceoff, and took the puck into the Iron Rangers end.

However the Northstars hit an early trip to the sin bin as #16 Alex Vaillant got a delay of game ticket.

The North Stars are playing from a very short bench tonight. Scoring leader Matt Kaarela remains off the bench with a suspension.

Despite playing short-handed the North Stars are holding the Iron Rangers to a tightly contested demonstration of penalty killing – the Iron Rangers only got off a pair of shots during the power play.

With the short bench, it is going to show how the planned enhanced fitness cardio training the team has undergone over the past few weeks play out.

There is a larger crowd than usual for the North Stars game tonight. However there remains a lot of open lumber in the stands where extra fans filling those seats would send a message that Thunder Bay can support good hockey.

Jayme Brattengeier just stole a goal away from Trevor Hoth of the Iron Rangers. The I-Ranger almost had Brattengeir fooled, but a quick firing out of his leg saved the goal. Time was 13:30.

Game remains scoreless.

 Fans are still making their way into the Fort William Gardens. 

The North Stars fired themselves and the fans up with a goal to take a 1-0 lead. At 9:46, the goal, scored by #8 Mathias Gardiman was assisted by #28 Trevor Hynnes. 

The Iron Rangers were pressing with 8 minutes left in the period. Strong goaltending by Brettengeier has keep the N-Stars ahead by a goal.

Five minutes left in the First Period. North Stars are remaining ahead.

The Iron Rangers have maintained a lot of puck control but the North Stars are keeping going and holding the lead.

Solid hockey action has been the focus of the first period, lots of skating. 

With 2.1 seconds left in the period, #21 Martin was tagged with a penalty for two minutes.

Shots on goal: North Stars 7 – Minnesota Iron Rangers 11.

SIJHL Playoff action
SIJHL Action – North Stars Iron Rangers

Second Period Action

The North Stars killed off the penalty in a two minute textbook case of penalty killing.

The North Stars are now, at 14: on the power play, #14 Justin Gregory of the I-Rangers was tagged with a slashing penalty.

The N-Stars are playing in a controlled manner passing the puck around looking a little like the league leading Minnesota Wilderness. The penalty is over with the North Stars getting several solid chances.

The second period is flying by, at the half way point of the period the score remains 1-0 for the North Stars, but the Iron Rangers are ahead on shots on net with an 18-10 margin of shots.

#8 Joey Haydock just fired a bullet that slide over the solid frame of Brattengeier who blocked the bullet with the savvy coolness of a diamond cutter.

The North Stars fired right back with Adam Restoule getting off a solid slap shot from the near point that tagged Chase Hollander who made the save.

So far with just over thirty minutes of play, the North Stars are holding on to their lead, and their focused cardio is holding them solidly in the contest.

With 5:30 in the second, the Iron Rangers got ever so close, with a scramble and fight for the puck that ended up with the puck glancing off the post.

The North Stars #28 Trevor Hynnes was belted with a tripping penalty giving the Iron Rangers a power play. there appears to be some growing frustration on the Iron Rangers bench. Coach Chris Walby with his styling long hair has players smashing their sticks on the ice as they leave their shifts.

The North Stars fired the puck deep into the I-Rangers zone to kill of the tripping penalty.

3:00 left in the second.

It is likely that the Iron Rangers will feel that they have outplayed the North Stars in the period, but they have not dominated where it counts, on the scoring sheet. With just over a minute left, the North Stars almost put the puck into the twine.

Second period ends with shots on goal, North Stars 14 and Iron Rangers 21

Third Period Action

During the second intermission, fans were sharing how they are excited with the North Stars play, but also worried about the short bench their team is holding. The North Stars have come out flying in the third.

A major burst into the Iron Rangers end got a great scoring chance. You can sense that the game is close. The goal for the N-Stars is to not attempt to sit on the lead but to keep pressing.

Minnesota was pressing hard in the Thunder Bay end, but the puck seems to keep bouncing in favour of the home team.

Fans are making a lot of noise considering there are not thousands in the stands. That support is helping the North Stars. who are remaining focused.

At the half way point of the third, the North Stars are remaining strong. Keeping away from the referee’s whistle is helping the team. 

With 9:09 left, the puck is in the Iron Ranger’s zone, and the North Stars have been pressing.

 As it should be in a playoff game, the referee is leaving his whistle in his pocket and letting the teams decide the game. That is one of the keys to the low score, and the end to end action. To the credit of the North Stars, tonight they have played very solid hockey.

#18 Jay Routheau for Minnesota and # for the North Stars got in to a minor shoving match, the whistle blew and both players were sent to the box. Cross-checking was the call. 

There are three minutes and thirty seconds left. 

The Iron Rangers called a time out – seeking to regroup and put the game into overtime.

The game ends in a 1-0 North Stars Win!

Final Shots on net North Stars 20 – Iron Rangers 32

SIJHL Hockey
North Stars celebrate first period goal – enough to win the game. Photo by Georgia Wenjack

Tonight’s NNL / SIJHL Playoff team included Georgia Wenjack and Michael Parenteau.




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