North Stars don't miss a beat in home opener
By Gary Moskalyk
It was an ugly scoresheet at Fort William Gardens on Tuesday, but the Thunder Bay North Stars kept their solid start to the Superior International Junior Hockey League season intact.
The North Stars parlayed a lethal powerplay into a 10-5 win over the Dryden Ice Dogs. The win raised Thunder Bay’s record to 6-0-1 while Dryden fell to 6-5.
Thunder Bay was one of the last teams to open its home schedule after six games on the road.
“It’s an incredible start,” said Zach Grzelewski, one of Tuesday’s goal scorers for the North Stars. “The boys are really loving it. It’s fun winning on the road and we finally got one at home here so it’s all good.”
Thunder Bay led 2-0 after a relatively tame first period. Kris Kellaway notched an even strength goal after a failed Matthias Gardiman wrap around attempt, followed by Taylor Santorelli’s short-handed, unassisted marker at 18:30.
A second period six-goal eruption keyed the win.
The North Stars built a 3-0 lead on a Robert MacLean goal before three fights punctuated the action in the second. If the thought on Dryden’s part was to slow the onslaught it may have backfired. The North Stars fired 24 shots that period to Dryden’s eight, and added five more goals to Dryden’s one to put the game out of reach.
Dryden starting goaltender Shayne Diety was pulled after two in favour of Robert Kopytek-MacKenzie.
The questions entering the third period were how many players would be around to finish it and whether Thunder Bay would reach double digits. Cary Brown went top shelf for the ninth goal on the power play, and Zach Grzelewski notched his second of the game also on the power play to make it 10-1.
There was only one bout in the third to settle that score, but it was game filled with 10-minute misconducts, penalties, ejections and, of course, scoring.
Dryden scored four unanswered goals to finish out the game but by that time it was 10-5 over and out.
Most of the goals were scored on the power play and many were scored in the blue paint.
“The best way to describe it is it was an usual game,” said head coach Jeremy Adduono. “As a player I’ve played in games like that before where you have a big lead heading into a third period and they are really tough games to finish out. Seems like time kind of stands still and if the other team gets a couple of goals it feels like no matter what you do it goes off a skate goes on a guy’s stick and it’s an empty net.”
The North Stars roster was hurting through injuries and altercations.
“We were really depleted,” said Adduono. “We had forwards playing defence and we had kids playing a lot of minutes that aren’t used to playing a lot of minutes. In the end we wanted to get two points tonight. We did that in a very unusual way but we’re glad we got the two points.”
For the record, in the second period Kellaway scored to make it 4-0 on the power play. Kenny Turner made it 5-0 on the PP. Brandon Wolframe made it 6-0 on the man-advantage before Dryden scored to make it 6-1, also on the power play.
Cary Brown and Grzelewski scored late in the second on even strength goals to increase the bulge to 8-1 at the end of two. Grzelewski had a four-point night. One of many North Stars to register multiple points on this night.
“We were excited to go tonight. It was our home opener so we came out firing,” Grzelewski said. “The puck kept going in the net for us. Good bounces.”