On to the next round, opponent to be determined.
The Thunder Bay North Stars rumbled out to a 4-0 first-period lead and Keenan Marks made 50 saves as the North Stars defeated the Red Lake Miners 6-0 on Thursday at Fort William Gardens to win their Superior International Junior Hockey League quarterfinal series in five games.
Edison Weeks scored at 1:29, Nolan Desjardins and EJ Paddington scored 38 seconds apart, and Nikolas Campbell went top shelf at 14:29 as the Stars applied a choke hold in the game en route to eliminating the reigning Bill Salonen Cup champions.
Mason Wesley scored late in the second period and Dimitri Trahiotis registered his first of the playoffs at 14:50 of the third to close out the scoring. Trahiotis and Wesley were the only two Stars with two points on the night.
Marks, a rookie in the junior ranks, picked up his second playoff win, while lowering his goals-against average to 1.00 and raising his save percentage to .978.
“Yeah it was awesome. That was a good game there. Glad it’s over. On to the next one. Doesn’t matter who we play. Just got to go out there and win. That’s all that matters,” Marks said.
The 4-0 lead didn’t hurt.
“Calms everything down. It’s nice to have a big lead after the first (period),” said Marks.
Thunder Bay was assessed 29 of the 44 penalty minutes assessed. Marks and Co. held the Miners scoreless on seven power plays while going 1-for-5 with the man advantage.
Jack Osmond stopped 35 of 41 in the Miners net. While Red Lake won the league last season, this year’s edition of the Miners underwent nearly a complete overhaul.
This series was the first of the three quarterfinal set to end. Thunder Bay will likely pay either the Dryden GM Ice Dogs or the Kam River Fighting Walleye in the next round, but the Sioux Lookout Bombers and Fort Frances Lakers are also possibilities.
Game 5 of the Dryden-Fort Frances series is Friday night with the Ice Dogs looking to close things out. Sioux Lookout and the Wisconsin Lumberjacks are tied at 2-2 heading into their fifth game on Friday.
“It’s going to get harder. Maybe we got a little lucky. They outshot us, they outplayed us even at times. Maybe their goalie didn’t have his best night,” said North Stars head coach Rob DeGagne. “We got to work harder, play better, they know that. We got eight games left. If you win eight games you’re going to the national championship. How much better can that be for you? We have no idea who we are playing. Just have to be ready.”
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