OLIVER PAIPOONGE – After watching teammate Pier-Luc Ballard crash into the boards and into the Superior International Junior Hockey League’s concussion protocol on Friday night, the Thunder Bay North Stars were bound to be playing with a bit of a chip on their shoulders in Saturday’s rematch.
The Kam River Fighting Walleye were ready and waiting.
Alex Enegren had three goals and two assists and Jeremy Dunmore scored the overtime winner 21 seconds into the three-on-three extra frame, earning the Fighting Walleye an old-school, barn-burning 7-6 win over their rivals to the east at the Norwest Arena.
Trenton Morriseau added a pair for Kam River, who maintained their hold on top spot in the SIJHL standings, a point ahead of the Red Lake Miners.
The North Stars, who got a pair from captain Hunter Foreshew, slipped to fourth, overtaken by the Dryden Ice Dogs, 7-0 winners south of the border in Thief River Falls.
“It wasn’t the game we were expecting, but we ended coming out of it with the two points, which is all we really care about,” said Enegren, the fifth-leading point-getter in the league, with 21.
“For me personally, I have really good linemates that I play with and they were kind of feeding me the puck and I was bearing down on my chances and got a few good ones today.”
The second-year Fighting Walleye forward said they knew they Stars would come of the gate hard in support of Bellard, who was rushed to hospital on Friday night, leading to the postponement of the game until 7 p.m. on Sunday night, Kam River in front 1-0 midway through the second.
“We knew they were going to come out flying. Our approach was to match their energy and that was pretty much it,” Enegren said.
How tight was the contest?
No team once led by more than a goal all night long.
The Stars took a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes, Noland Desjardins and Zack Davis, with his first of the season, wiping out Enegren’s first of the game earlier in the opening period.
Enegren tied the game three minutes into the second, banking the puck off the pads of North Stars goaltender Jordan Smith. Foreshew and Morriseau traded goals two-and-a-half minutes apart, then Hayden Cattani gave the Stars the lead for the third time of the night, only to have Morriseau tie it with 41 seconds to go in the frame.
It was that kind of night.
Energren potted a shorthanded tally 4:28 into the third, his shot finding its way through traffic, giving Kam River a 5-4 lead, it’s second of the night. But 38 seconds later, the Stars still on the power play, Lou Vesperini knotted the game once again, tipping a Brad Fortier shot that fooled Fighting Walleye goaltender Austin Madge.
Foreshew added his second of the night, and 1th of the season at the 8:57 mark, only to have Mackenzie Sedgwick burying a pass from behind the North Stars net.
Dunmore settled it in OT, making a quick move in alone on Smith, then firing it home on the backhand, giving Kam River its third straight win.
“It was just one of those ones where it went both ways and I think both teams felt that momentum swing every couple of shifts,” said Fighting Walleye coach Matt Valley. “You know what, that’s why we play the game. That was fun ... Our guys that needed to step up, I think stepped up.”
North Stars coach Rob DeGagne said it was just the kind of game he expected – even the fights that saw Thunder Bay’s Davis and Mason Wesley, and Kam River’s Collin Wiseman and Colin McLeod tossed for fighting.
“It’s a good rivalry,” DeGagne said. “I’m not sure how many people were here tonight, but it was a full crowd and back and forth. You’ve got to be excited to play in a game like that.”
Scoring: 1. Kam River, Enegren 8 (Reich) 5:13. 2. Thunder Bay, Versperino 9 (Davis) 10:43. 3. Thunder Bay, Davis (unassisted) 18:47. Penalties: Kuzenko TB (tirpping) 4:39, McGill KR (elbowing) 6:38. Kuzenko TB (tripping) 12:23, Ralph KR (internference) 18:37, Desjardins TB (slashing) 19:11.
Scoring: 4. Kam River, Enegren 9 (unassisted) 2:48. 5. Thunder Bay, Foreshew (Desjardins) 5:30 pp. 6. Kam River, Morriseau 7 (Enegren) 8:09 pp. 7. Thunder Bay, Cattani 1 (Meloche, Nelson) 9:28. 8. Kam River, Morriseau 8 (Enegren, Lang) 19:19. Penalties: Nelson TB (roughing) Davis TB (fighting major), Veneruzzo KR (roughing), McGill (roughing, unsportsmanlike conduct) Wiseman KR (fighting, game misconduct) 3:24. McLeod KR, Wesley TB (fighting majors, game misconducts) 5:56, Veneruzzo KR (slashing) 15:00.
Scoring: 9. Kam River, Enegren 10 (Gorst) 4:28 sh. 10. Thunder Bay, Versperini (Fortier) 5:06 pp. 11. Thunder Bay, Foreshew 12 (Desjardins, Bertrand) 8:57. 12. Kam River, Sedgwick 2 (Ralph, Veneruzzo) 14:29. Penalties: Foreshew TB (tripping) 0:53, Lang KR (cross checking) 4:09.
Scoring. 7. Kam River, Dunmore (unassisted) 0:21. Penalties: None.
GAME DATA – SOG – Thunder Bay 10-17-15-0-42, Kam River 12-21-20-1-54; Power plays (goals-chances) – Thunder Bay (3-6), Kam River (2-5); Goaltenders – Thunder Bay: Jordan Smith, Kam River: Austin Madge; A: 540.