Bryce Maggrah wanted to be in a North Stars uniform all along.
On Friday his wish came true in fairy-tale fashion, as the ex-Dryden Ice Dog and Fort Frances Lakers forward scored the winner Friday night, a late third period tally that led Thunder Bay to a sloppy 6-4 triumph over the winless and visiting Duluth Clydesdales.
The 18-year-old’s first couldn’t have come at a better time, after the Stars had surrendered a two-goal lead in the span of 44 seconds in the final stanza, Kevin Phillips having tied the game for Duluth on a penalty shot at the 7:47 mark.
“Yeah, we needed one and I just try to capitalize on all my opportunities. My teammate left me a pretty nice opportunity, so I wired it into the back of the net,” said Maggrah, a 16-goal scorer in Dryden last season.
It was a quick turnaround to get Maggrah into a North Stars uniform, after the Lakers released the Thunder Bay native just weeks into the 2012-13 campaign.
Apparently he’s a quick learner.
“They gave me a shot and filled me in here and there, and that’s about it,” he said.
His arrival couldn’t have come at a more timely moment, the Stars reeling from a stack of injuries that have sidelined leading scorer Matt Kaarela for at least another week, not to mention the likes of forward Kris Kellaway, blue-liner Paul Zysko and goalie Jayme Brattengeier.
Maggrah said injuries are just part of the game and the Stars (8-3-0) have what it takes to overcome them.
“There’s a good group of guys in there and we just stick to each other and play as a team and if you do that, wins will come.”
Of course, it doesn’t hurt when you get a stellar goaltending performance from a rookie netminder making his Superior International Junior Hockey League debut.
Eric Ouellet, who opened the season with the Fort William Canadians, was called up to the Stars on an emergency basis and performed admirably, if not spectacularly at times, given the circumstances.
“He came in here, playing at home, his first time starting in junior, and I thought he handled himself really well for a young kid,” North Stars coach Kevin Kahoot said. “He stopped pucks that he needed to stop and you can’t really fault him on a … penalty-shot goal. And he made some great saves down the stretch when it was 4-4 to keep us in it.”
Duluth (0-7-1) took their first and only lead of the night at 5:04 of the first on Darrick Howard’s fourth of the season. But two minutes later, with the Stars on the power play, Wade Garbett knotted the game at a goal apiece.
Alex Vaillant put the Stars ahead at 12:11, and 14 seconds later Kolton Kahoot doubled the lead, beating Dom DeGuiseppi. But the Clydesdales wouldn’t quit, pulling to within a goal when Alex Leininger was sandwiched between a pair of Stars defenders, but still managed to knock a power-play goal past Ouellet.
Cary Brown restored the two-goal lead with the only goal of the second, a high, hard shot that DeGuiseppe just couldn’t handle. Austin Snedded squeaked another power play goal through at 7:03 of the third to cut Thunder Bay’s advantage again to one. Mitchell Fox iced it with an empty netter with seven seconds to go in regulation.
Scoring: 1. Duluth Howard 4 (Williams, Snedden) 5:04. 2. Thunder Bay, Garbett 5 (Ackewance, Lacosse) 7:14 pp. 3. Thunder Bay, Vaillant 4 (Kahoot, Mi. Fox) 12:11. 4. Thunder Bay, Kahoot 3 (Mi. Fox) 12:25. 5. Duluth, Leininger (Ringstad, Monteiro) 14:47 pp. Penalties: Mascarin TB (pre-game violation) 0:00, Merritt DUL (delay of game) 5:57, Phillips DUL (hooking) 9:36, Mascarin TB (cross checking) 13:40.
Scoring: 6. Thunder Bay, Brown 1 (Ma. Fox, Mascarin) 18:47 pp. Penalties: Leininger DUL (hooking) 2:52, Ouellet TB (delay of game, served by Ackewance) 7:04, Ma. Fox TB (cross checking) 10:57, Williams DUL (closing hand on puck) 17:38.
Scoring: 7. Duluth Snedden (Newman, Howard) 7:03 pp. 8. Duluth, Phillips (unassisted) 7:47 penalty shot. 9. Thunder Bay, Maggrah (Prout) 16:39. 10. Thunder Bay, Mi. Fox (unassisted) 19:53. Penalties: Mi. Fox TB (cross checking) 1:41, Gauthier DUL (roughing) 4:18, Ackewance TB (unsportsmanlike conduct) 6:35. Phillips (roughing, unsportsmanlike conduct) DUL, Cox TB (hooking, unsportsmanlike conduct) 9:18, Snedden DUL (tripping) 11:01, Mi. Fox TB, Snedden DUL (roughing) 16:23
GAME DATA – SOG – Duluth 11-7-15-33, Thunder Bay 6-8-9-23; Power plays (goals-chances) - Duluth (2-6), Thunder Bay (2-6); Shots on goal – Goaltenders – Duluth: Dom DeGuiseppi, Thunder Bay: Eric Ouellett; A: 200 (estimated).
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