The Thunder Bay North Stars now know what it takes to beat the Minnesota Wilderness.
Unfortunately they figured it out a little late on Tuesday night and will have to wait until the next time the two teams meet to put their game plan into practice.
The Wilderness got goals from five different players and only a second effort by North Stars forward Jordan Davidson on the backhand late in the third stood between them and a shutout win at Fort William Gardens.
It wasn’t their best effort, North Stars coach Kevin Kahoot said following the 5-1 loss.
“They came in here and they played a heck of game,” he said. “They beat us at the game that we’re trying to play. They got pucks deep on us all night, they skated. They just outworked us tonight.”
The scoring chances were few and far between for the Stars – at least quality chances.
Kahoot said it was obvious they were being outplayed, and it just took too long for his players to realize it.
“The sense of urgency really didn’t click in until it was too late. When we got down three goals I thought we created some more chances. We made some adjustments between the second and third period that seemed to work, but we didn’t have the luck around net as well,” Kahoot said. “But you’ve got to earn your luck too.”
Duluth native Jordan Drapluk got the offensive ball rolling for the first-place Wilderness (12-2-0), winners of five straight.
Drapluk beat Jayme Brattengeier on the power play at 11:27 of the opening period, followed two minutes later by a Mike Dietrich goal, his ninth of the season.
Brandon Zurick scored the lone goal of the second for the Wilderness, firing a shot through traffic from just inside the blue-line that made it 3-0 after 40 minutes.
The North Stars best chance came with a man advantage, one of eight they unsuccessfully plied on the night, when Bryce Martyn nailed the post beside Minnesota goalie JoJo Jeantta with four-and-a-half to play in the period.
Danny Bartoiak and Jake Larson, who tied Dietrich for the Superior International Junior Hockey League goal-scoring lead, added goals for the Wilderness in the third, upping the Minnesota lead to 5-0 before Davidson spoiled the shutout bid, thanks in part to Wade Garbett keeping the play puck in the attack zone on a bad clearing play.
“It’s a good morale booster. Nobody likes to have a team come in and shut you out in your own building. It was nice. It was a little too late, but it was still nice to lose the goose egg up there,” Kahoot said.
“We still have guys who aren’t conforming to the game plan that we set out. And in this league you have to be able to get pucks deep. You’ve got to be able to cycle the puck, and you’ve got to be able to pressure their D. And for two periods we weren’t doing that.”
The Stars were out-shot 28-24 on the night.
Thunder Bay heads to Dryden on Saturday, returning to the Gardens on Nov. 2 and Nov. 3 for a pair against the Duluth Clydesdales.
Scoring: 1. Minnesota, J. Drapluk (Zurick, Shockley) 11:27 pp. 2. Minnesota, Dietrich (McCormack, Sampair) 13:21. Penalties: Ma. Fox TB (cross checking) 5:53, Bartowiak MIN (slashing) 9:13, Kahoot TB (boarding) 11:17, Thielan MIN (slashing), Garbett TB (roughing) 11:49, Ma. Fox TB (roughing) 13:57, Bartowiak MIN (hooking) 17:03.
Scoring: 3. Minnesota, Zurick (Shockley) 9:15 pp. Penalties: Mascarin TB (unsportsmanlike conduct, misconduct) 2:37, Shockley MIN (slashing) 3:34, Michaud MIN (delay of game) 3:43, Maxson MIN (hooking) 6:07, Kahoot TB (interference) 9:09, Zysko TB (elbowing) 10:57, Maxson MIN (holding) 14:19,
Scoring: 4. Minnesota Bartowiak (Barnes, Haskin) 5:32. 5. Minnesota, Larson (unassisted) 15:30. 6. Thunder Bay, Davidson (Garbett, Ackewance) 19:22. Penalties: Michaud MIN (delay of game) 17:07, Barnes MIN (interference) 19:45.
GAME DATA – SOG – Minnesota 12-9-7-28, Thunder Bay 7-8-9-24; Power plays (goals-chances) – Minnesota (2-7), Thunder Bay (0-8); Goaltenders – Minnesota: JoJo Jeanetta; Thunder Bay: Jayme Brattengeier.
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