SIJHL Showcase Has North Stars off to Hot Start
SPOONER, Wis. – A Zach Grzelewski goal with 6:26 remaining proved to be the difference as the Thunder Bay North Stars edged the Minnesota Iron Rangers 3-2 Wednesday afternoon in the opener of the Superior International Junior Hockey League’s Showcase at the Spooner Ice House.
The first period was scoreless until late in the session when Minnesota’s Trevor Hoth took a feed from behind the net and quickly went top shelf on Thunder Bay starter Eric Mann.
A harmless looking play resulted in the equalizer for the North Stars early in the middle stanza as Cary Brown lifted the puck towards the net from the corner to see it bounce off the mask of Minnesota goaltender Erick Majerle and into the net.
The Iron Rangers retook the lead striking shorthanded thanks to Matt Audet, but Thunder Bay received another fortunate bounce to tie it at 2-2 when Matthias Gardiman’s attempt hit the skate of a Minnesota defender and found its way into the open side.
A tight-checking final frame saw the North Stars net the winner as the North Stars’ big power forward Grzelweswki drove hard past an opposing defenceman and wire the winner past Majerle from the right face-off dot.
With a power play late Minnesota also pulled their netminder in the final minute and a half for a two-man advantage, but Mann kept the Iron Rangers at bay to close the door on the Thunder Bay victory.
Daniel Delpaggio chipped in with a pair of assists for the winners extending a consecutive game point streak to 19 straight outings.
Both goaltenders were solid in the one-goal game with Mann making 41 stops in the contest and Majerle the victim of a couple of bad bounces having 28 stops in defeat.
With the triumph the North Stars improve to 26-6-1-4 on the season while Minnesota slipped to 22-10-2-4.
The SIJHL Showcase continues later today with the Fort Frances Lakers taking on the English River Miners at 4:30 p.m. CT followed by the Dryden Ice Dogs and Wisconsin Wilderness at 8 p.m. CT.
Three more Showcase games go Thursday back in Spooner with the Miners and Iron Rangers tangling at 1 p.m. CT, the Lakers and Ice Dogs meeting at 4:30 p.m. before concluding at 8 p.m. CT with the North Stars and Wilderness.
Wednesday, Jan. 22
Thunder Bay 3 Minnesota 2
English River vs. Fort Frances 4:30 p.m.
Dryden vs. Wisconsin 8 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 23
Minnesota vs. English River 1 p.m.
Fort Frances vs. Dryden 4:30 p.m.
Wisconsin vs. Thunder Bay 8 p.m.