Thunder Bay strikes late to rally past Wisconsin

THUNDER BAY, Ont. – A waist-high deflection by Thunder Bay North Stars forward Jacob Anttonen with 61 seconds to go gave his side a dramatic 5-4 victory over the Wisconsin Lumberjacks in Superior International Junior Hockey League action Wednesday night at the Fort William Gardens.

The Wisconsin power play helped them get off a good start beginning at 14:14 of the first as Cade Moreland wired one top shelf from the high slot past Thunder Bay starter Jordan Smith.

On the man advantage once more, the Lumberjacks tacked on another, a minute and a half later, as Matt Turnbull’s feed from behind the net found Ryan Green, who swatted in his team-leading seventh of the season to put the guests up by a pair.

Up a skater early in the second, the North Stars got on the board as Maxime Fortin’s low point blast deflected off the skate of Jacob Brown parked in front and changed direction enough to elude Wisconsin goalkeeper Nathan Mueller at 3:03.

It remained that way until the late going of the second stanza when the visitors picked up their third extra-man marker of the evening as Dalton Garcia finished off a Braden LaPorte feed at 19:47.

Rallying in the third, Brown’s 10th of the year brought the hosts back to within one at 1:36 before Logan Mihalcin’s point blast tied it at 3-3.

Countering, Wisconsin went back on top midway through the period on some nice work by Kayle Bocken and Tyler Shetland that allowed Nicholas Solema to notch his third of the campaign.

Back and forth they went with Thunder Bay evening the scoring once more that saw Cody Bruchkowski stuff in his club-best 11th from the left of the crease after being stoned by Lumberjacks netminder Nathan Mueller just moments earlier.

Then with regulation time winding down, Nikolas Campbell of the North Stars corralled the puck out of the corner and fired an attempt on goal that Anttonen deftly directed in while parked to the side of Mueller to pull out the triumph on home ice.

Shots on goal were as equally close with Thunder Bay holding a 40-39 edge in that department.

Photo credit: Leith Dunick,