Norskies halt North Stars winning streak at 11 with shootout triumph

THUNDER BAY, Ont. – Bailey Schmitz made a combined 58 saves in regulation and in overtime as well as both attempts he faced in the shootout to backstop the Thief River Falls Norskies to a 3-2 victory over the Thunder Bay North Stars in a spirited Superior International Junior Hockey League affair Saturday at the Fort William Gardens.

The loss also snaps Thunder Bay’s 11-game winning streak as the league-leading North Stars slipped to 21-1-1-1 while the Norskies improved to 14-9-3-1.

A prevalent lack of discipline resulted in 15 power plays on the night, including nine for Thief River Falls.

Avery Siau’s first of the season put Thunder Bay in front with a man advantage effort at 5:44.

The visitors came back to tie it late in the opening frame on Boe Bjorge’s 17th as he extended a point streak to 15 consecutive games in the process.

After a scoreless second stanza, the Norskies took the lead three and a half minutes into the third on a Brett Piper power play marker.

Then with North Stars’ starter Dougie Newhouse on the bench late in favour of an extra attacker, Ryan Mignault tied it with 25 seconds remaining in regulation as he lifted the equalizer over Schmitz to force overtime.

Neither side would convert in OT, but in the shootout both Bjorge and Blake Nelson scored on similar dekes for Thief River Falls while Schmitz stymied Mignault and Keigan Gerrie on their attempts to give the guests the win.

North Stars defenceman Kyle Auger was held off the score sheet in the setback as his 21-game point run came to an end.

Thunder Bay held a big edge in shots, by a 60-27 count, with Schmitz picking up the victory while Newhouse suffered the loss.

Photo credit: Rick Baraniuk