By Gary Moskalyk
The Thunder Bay North Stars overcame a 2-1 second period deficit with three in the third for a 4-3 win over the Kam River Fighting Walleye to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven SIJHL finals at Norwest Arena.
Edison Weeks tied the game, rookie Evan Lachimea put them ahead, Weeks notched his 5th of the playoffs at 18:32 for a 4-2 lead, but Jack Cook scored shorthanded from the point with just under eight seconds left to add a little suspense.
The teams exchanged even-strength goals in the first. Noah Kramps buried his 4th of the playoffs at 15:26 after Thunder Bay’s Keenan Marks made a pair of saves for a 1-0 Kam River lead.
Dimitri Trahiotis accepted a backhand pass from EJ Paddington and scored on Eric Vanska’s doorstep to knot the score.
Defenceman Kyle Lamoureux drifted in from his point position, accepted a perfect pass from Max Leduc, and fired a mid-slot wrister on the Walleye powerplay to give the Walleye their 2-1 advantage.
Weeks, who led the Stars in point production in the regular season, scored his 4th of the playoffs on a Thunder Bay powerplay at 8:49. Lachimea’s goal was unassisted. He grabbed the puck deep in the Kam River zone, skated along the line, and jammed in his first of the playoffs to give the Stars their first lead of the game.
Paddington stole the puck in the Walleye zone, fed Weeks, and the Wainwright, AB native went blocker side for the apparent dagger with 88 seconds left.
With 52 seconds left, the Stars on the powerplay and up by two, a late icing and faceoff win resulted in Jack Cook registering his 9th of the playoffs with a slapshot from the point with 7.8 ticks on the clock. There was no further drama.
The Stars are on a four-game streak.
Marks stopped 41 of 44 while Vanska shunted aside 33 of 37. Weeks added an assist for a three-point night, and Paddington had a pair of helpers for Thunder Bay. Lamoureux had two points for Kam River.
Thunder Bay was 1-4 on the powerplay. Kam River was 1-2. The Stars took four of the 11 minor penalties assessed. The game drew 893 fans.