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Fighting Walleye hang on to edge undermanned Norskies squad

Jeremy Dunmore, Jonah Derosiers score twice to lead Kam River to its fifth straight triumph.

OLIVER PAIPOONGE – In the end, the Kam River Fighting Walleye simply wore down the visiting Thief River Falls Norskies.

The Norskies arrived in Northwestern Ontario, the start of a three-game road trip that includes a pair of contests against the Thunder Bay North Stars on Friday and Saturday night, with just a dozen skaters and two goaltenders.

The fully stocked Fighting Walleye, the top team in the Superior International Junior Hockey League, winners of four straight heading into Thursday's match at the Norwest Arena, fired shot after shot after shot at Norskies netminder Matthew Loney.

Shot after shot, he kicked them aside.

Jeremy Dunmore finally beat him late in the first, snapping up a puck in traffic in front and burying it behind the beleaguered goaltender.

But it wasn't until the second half of the second period before the Fighting Walleye found the twine again, Jonah DesRosiers taking a quick pass in the slot and jamming it past Loney for a 2-1 lead they'd never relinquish.

"I thought we were getting a lot of chances, but I think we need to bear down more and take the extra second or two to try to put in the net. I think that would help us a lot. In the long run we'll be able to smoke team more," said Dunmore, who upped his total to seven goals on the season. 

Earlier in the period the Norskies, thanks to a quick shot off the stick of R.J. Dickie that flew past Eric Vanska in the Kam River goal, had tied the game, the tally coming at the 5:55 mark.

Dunmore added his second of the night with eight seconds to go in the second, lifting a sneaky backhand pass from Keaton Mercredi top-shelf on Loney for a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes.

Running into a hot goaltender can frustrate some teams, but not the Fighting Walleye, Dunmore said. 

"I think it motivates us more, honestly, that we see he's playing good and we've got to up our game to try to beat him," he said. "It feels good to put some pucks in the net and get my confidence up, but it wasn't the outcome we wanted. We should have put some more in the net. But we learn every day and we'll come out stronger." 

Thief River cut Kam River's lead to one six minutes into the third, Aaron Bertchinger taking a quick shot from just inside the blueline that caught Eric Vanska off guard. Thirty-two seconds later the Fighting Walleye had their two-goal lead back, DesRosiers potting his second of the night. 

Trenton Morriseau stretched the lead to three at the 5:57 mark, but a strong finish turned a runaway into a one-goal game. Scott Bugarin started the comeback at 15:22, chipping the puck out of his own zone, skating down the left side and beating Vanska on his glove-hand side. Then, with 20 seconds left in regulation, Bertschinger struck again with Sean Guerin on the bench. Guerin took over with 13:23 to go, stopping 11 of 11 shots. 

Kam River coach Matt Valley said his team might have been a little guilty of taking the Norskies for granted, especially after going up three. 

"A lot of times you see them in the first kind of come out and hang with you, but they've got a short bench so that fades away. I think it did, but we just didn't really capitzlize on it. If you let a team hang around, you chase their goalie and then don't capitalize on that and they wind up scoring," Valley said. 

Valley said he was disappointed with the finish and promised a few lineup changes when the Fort Frances Lakers invade the Norwest Arena on Friday night for the first of two meetings between the two teams. 

It was the fifth straight win for the Fighting Walleye (15-3-1) and the fourth straight loss for the Norskies (3-10-0). 

: 1. Kam River, Dunmore 6 (Mercredi, Gorst) 16:31. b: Yu TRF (holding) 4:55, Lancaster KRW (cross checking) 8:13, DesRosiers KRW (interference) 19:02.

: 2. Thief River Falls, Dickie 3 (Gockner) 5:55. 3. Kam River, DesRosiers 2 (Lang, Enegren) 12:59. 4. Kam River, Dunmore 7 (Mercredi, McGilll) 19:52. Penalties: None

: 5. Thief River Falls, Bertschinger 3 (Dickie, Martin) 4:05. 6. Thunder Bay, DesRosiers 3 (Gorson, Mecredi) 4:37. 7. Kam River, Morriseau 9 (Enegren) 5:57. 8. Thief River Falls, Bugarin (Martin, MacKay) 15:22. 9. Kam River, Bertschinger 4 (Bugarin, MacKay) 19:40. Penalties: None.

GAME DATASOG – Thief River Falls 10-8-14-32, Kam River 21-20-19-60; Power plays (goals-chances) – Thief River Falls (0-2), Kam River (0-1); Goaltenders – Thief River Falls: Matthew Loney (48 shots, 43 saves), Sean Guerin (6:37, third), Kam River: Eric Vanska; A: 271.

Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith is Dougall Media's director of news, but still likes to tell your stories too. Wants his Expos back and to see Neil Young at least one more time. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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