By Gary Moskalyk
Thunder Bay, ON – Matthew Stephens stopped 44 of 45 shots as the Kenora Islanders won their first game in over four months with a 3-1 victory over the Thunder Bay North Stars at Fort William Gardens. Coming off a hard luck 3-2 loss to Fort Frances last weekend, Kenora played a disciplined game, ticking off a long list of franchise firsts while a snapping a 27-game winless skein.
The firsts: first road win, first regulation win, first win under head coach Nathan Bruyere. And Lazarus Constant scored his first goal, an empty netter, for the first empty-net goal in franchise history.
The Stars outshout Kenora 45-16 overall but ran into a hot goalie. The Stars fell behind 1-0 after one and 2-0 deep into the second. Defenceman Braden Swampy opened the scoring with a low shot from the point after John Paul Scaringi’s face-off win put the puck on his stick four seconds into an Islander powerplay.
Scaringi’s great pass to Aaron Bertschinger resulted in a 2-0 Islander lead at 16:41 of the second. EJ Paddington got Thunder Bay on the board with six seconds left in the middle frame for his 20th.
The third period stayed scoreless until the final minute, with the teams trading powerplay chances. With Keenan Marks out for an extra attacker and Thunder Bay pressing, Constant was able to corral a loose puck near his own blue-line, play it off the boards and then send a 100-footer into the vacated net with 46 seconds left. Scaringi picked up the puck, threw it to the Islander trainer for a souvenir, and Stephens stood tall for the remainder of the game to put in the books.
Kenora took five minors while Thunder Bay took seven two-minute infractions and a 10-minute misconduct. The Islanders were 1-5 with the man advantage while the Stars were 0-4.
Thunder Bay’s loss broke a seven-game winning streak. Marks took the loss, stopping 13 of 15. Stephens won his second.