Saturday, September 18, 2021 , Oliver Paipoonge, ON
It was a memorable night for the Kam River Fighting Walleye
and their fans on Saturday, when the club hustled to a 4-2 victory over their cross-town rivals, the Thunder Bay North Stars.
The pre-game ceremony featured a touching tribute to the late Bill Duncan, a long-time NorWest minor hockey coach and volunteer who had a tremendously positive impact on local hockey and the Oliver Paipoonge community.
When the puck dropped, Kam River had the early jump, scoring the opening goal just 2 minutes into the game. Ethan Lang banged in a rebound after some nice work by Mackenzie Sedgwick and Jonah Desrosiers, and the score was 1-0 Walleye.
Kam River would push the play for the rest of the first period, recording 11 shots and numerous scoring chances in the frame,
but the score would remain 1-0 when the teams headed for their dressing rooms after 20 minutes.
Momentum would shift to the North Stars in the early part of the 2 nd period. Raj Sangha would get the Stars on the board, potting a 5-on-3 powerplay goal to even the score at 1 apiece.
The two teams traded chances back and forth, until Sangha scored again with 5 minutes left in the middle frame.
The 2-1 Stars lead would be short-lived, however, as Calum Mcgill
scored his first Junior “A” goal with 3 minutes left to tie the game once again. The goal was assisted by Christian Veneruzzo and Zach Fortin.
With a fresh sheet of ice to start the third period, the Walleye stepped up the intensity to take the game back over. Six minutes in, Keaton Mercredi deposited a rebound to score the eventual game-winner. Alex Enegren and Trenton Morriseau had the helpers. Just 3 minutes later, a Brad Fortier point shot found it’s way behind North Stars netminder Jordan Smith to give the Fish an insurance marker.
Fighting Walleye goaltender Austin Madge would shut the door the rest of the way, making 7 saves in the final frame and 22 saves overall.
Fighting Walleye head coach Matt Valley was pleased with his group’s effort in the opening game of the 2021-22 season. “Myself and the rest of the staff are very proud of the way our guys came out of the gate,” said Valley. “It was an emotional day and evening for the
team and community. And the boys fed off of that. Sure there are a number of details we didn’t quite execute they way we drew them up, but overall, a solid team effort. Thank you to the Duncan family for their support. Billy was an exceptional man who gave his life to the kids in our community of Oliver Paipoonge, which I know first hand. It was an honour to be a part of that tribute,” Valley concluded.
The Fighting Walleye next action will be back at Norwest Arena, this time against the Fort Frances Lakers, on Saturday, September 25th.
Cheadles 3 Stars of the game
1 st – Christian Veneruzzo
2 nd – Raj Sangha
3 rd – Keaton Mercredi