Goals certainly weren’t at a premium Tuesday night.
The Thunder Bay North Stars, making their home-ice debut at Fort William Gardens, erupted for six in the second period alone and cruised to a 10-5, fight-filled win over the Dryden Ice Dogs.
The Stars scored four times in six power play opportunities – though they also allowed four goals in seven shorthanded situations.
Cary Brown, Kris Kellaway and Zach Grzelewski, who added a pair of helpers, each scored twice for the Stars, who remained unbeaten in regulation, upping their record to 6-0-1.
First-year coach Jeremy Adduono didn’t fault his troops for surrendering four goals in the final stanza, after racing to an 8-1 lead through 40 minutes.
“It wasn’t your average game and that’s what I told the guys,” said Adduono, a former seventh-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres.
“As a player I played in games like that before, when you have a big lead going into the third period. They’re really tough games to finish out. It seems like time stands still and if the other team gets a couple of goals, it feels like no matter what you do nothing will go right.”
Grzelewski said the Stars will try to remember the second and not let the third get in their heads – though they’ll reserve it for future reference should they be in the situation again.
“We were excited to go tonight, so we came out firing and they started going in the net for us. We got good bounces.”
Home cooking never tasted so good, he added, after five games on the road to start the season.
“It’s an incredible start and the boys are really loving it. It’s fun winning on the road and now we got one at home here, so it’s all good,” he said.
“After a while you get a little eager to get home.”
The Stars raced out to a 2-0 lead through 20 minutes, then added a third early in the second when Robert MacLean beat Dryden’s Shayne Diety on a tic-tac-toe play 2:13 in.
That’s when things got spirited, leading to a three-fight brawl that interrupted play for about 15 minutes while the officials sorted out the penalties.
When the gloves and sticks were collected three players on each team were ejected. Top scorer Brandon Wolframe, Jesse Taylor and Tim Cavar were tossed from the Stars bench, while Brendan Enns, Zachary Kercz and Braedan Foote were booted from Dryden (6-5-0).
Already hurting and shorthanded, losing three more players didn’t help the North Stars cause, Adduono said.
But they’ve been finding ways to win and proving they can do it in all sorts of ways.
Tuesday was no different.
“We’ve won close ones, we’ve won games like we did tonight. We’ve just been finding ways. We’ve had balanced scoring, we’ve had good goaltending, we’ve had guys step up and play out of position. We’re finding ways. It’s tough every night. Every team is pretty good and there are no easy games.”
Rather than let the fights get them down, the Stars continued to pour it on in the second, adding three goals in a five-minute span before Dryden’s Cody Kaus spoiled Eric Mann’s shutout bid at 13:51, just four seconds after Thunder Bay’s Taylor Santorelli was penalized.
Robert Kopytek-MacKenzie took over Dryden’s goaltending duties in the third and allowed just two goals on nine shots.
Down 10-1, Dryden scored four times in a six-minute stretch, but it was too little too late.
Tyson Holder, Drew Walske and Chris Belhumeur, with a pair, were the Ice Dogs goal scorers.
The North Stars entertain expansion English River on Friday and take on top-ranked Fort Frances on Saturday night.
Scoring: 1. Kellaway 3 (Gardiman, Grzelewski) 5:37. 2. Thunder Bay, Santorelli 7 (unassisted) 18:30 sh. Penalties: Enns DRY (cross checking) 3:34, Kaszuba TB (cross checking) 7:22, Walsh TB (tripping) 10:10, Kellaway TB (cross checking) 17:08, Foote DRY (roughing) 19:45.
Scoring: 3. Thunder Bay, MacLean 3 (Brown, Gardiman) 2:13. 4. Thunder Bay, Kellaway 4 (Bre. Wolframe, Maggrah) 8:46 pp. 5. Thunder Bay, Turner 1 (Grzelewski) 11:23. 6. Thunder Bay, Bre. Wolframe 1 (Turner, MacLean) 13:28 pp. 7. Dryden, Kaus 1 (Court, Boyce) 13:51 pp. 8. Thunder Bay, Brown 6 (Hynnes, Gardiman) 15:48. 9. Thunder Bay, Grzelewski 1 (MacLean, Mihalus) 18:43. Penalties: Enns DRY (fighting major, double game misconduct), Kercz DRY (fighting, game misconduct) , Foote DRY (fighting major, double game misconduct), Taylor TB (holding, fighting major, game misconduct), Cavar TB (fighting major, double game misconduct), Bra. Wolframe TB (fighting, double game misconduct) 4:22, Walsh TB (interference), Court DRY (slashing) 8:17, Kaus DRY (boarding) 9:31, Boyce DRY (slashing, misconduct), DelpaggioTB (high sticking, misconduct) 11:10, Diety DRY (interference, served by Walske) 11:56, Santorelli TB (slashing) 13:47.
Scoring: 10. Thunder Bay, Brown 7 (Vaillant, Bre. Wolframe) 4:28 pp. 11. Thunder Bay, Grzelewski 2 (Delpaggio, Mihalus) 6:29 pp. 12. Dryden, Holder 8 (Feeney, Kaus) 7:28 pp. 13. Dryden, Belhumeur 1 (Feeney, Boyce) 8:50 pp. 14. Dryden, Walske 2 (Keski-Pukkila, Coonishish-Coon) 10:27. 15. Dryden, Belhumeur (Kaus, Holder) 13:59 pp. Penalties: Walsh TB (fighting, game misconduct) McPhail DRY (instigating, fighting major, game misconduct) 2:50, Prince DRY (misconduct) 5:54, Court DRY (hooking) 6:06, MacLean TB (tripping) 6:54, Grzelewski TB (tripping) 8:27, Kaszuba TB (interference) 13:53.
GAME DATA – SOG – Dryden 7-6-9-22, Thunder Bay 12-14-10-36; Power plays (goals-chances): Dryden (4-7), Thunder Bay (4-6); Goaltenders – Dryden: Shayne Diety (26 shots, 18 saves), Robert Kopytek-MacKenzie (0:00, third), Thunder Bay: Eric Mann; A: N/A.
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