THUNDER BAY – The Thunder Bay North Stars turned Fort William Gardens into a shooting gallery on Wednesday night.
The Stars fired a Superior International Junior Hockey League record 101 shots at Minnesota Iron Rangers goalie Synjen Amende, scoring on 14 of them and romped to a 14-0 shutout win over an opponent reduced to 13 skaters because of injury and player departures.
Ryan Mignault and Ben Erwin picked up four goals apiece and Joel Willan added a hat trick of his own for Thunder Bay, who hit the century shot mark with a five-goal, 44-shot effort in the third.
“That’s a first for me,” said Mignault, who added an assist for a five-point night and took over the team goal-scoring lead from line-mate Keighan Gerrie, with 16.
“You don’t get a lot of games even close to that number, so that’s what happens when you get all four lines going, I guess, and you stay in their end for 90 per cent of the game or more.”
Egged on by the crowd, Mignault admitted the Stars were aiming for the 100-shot mark, especially after reaching 90 with about five minutes to go.
“Absolutely, we were pushing for it. It’s kind of a milestone of sorts for us. You’ve got to get up against these weaker teams and find something to work for, so that was our goal,” Mignault said.
Willan, who jumped into a tie for fourth place on the SIJHL scoring chart with his three-goal, three-assist output, said it was a pretty remarkable feat.
“For sure, it’s awesome. It’s tough to get up for these games, but the boys seemed to come out strong today, moved the puck around and filled the net. Yeah, we got lots of shots tonight,” Willan said.
Nine North Stars had multiple-point nights, while just four skaters didn’t register a point – Brendan Gillis, Evan Nicholas, Cole Turbide and Thomas Brassard.
Meanwhile brothers Ben and Alex Erwin combined for 10 points, Ben adding a pair of assists to his four-goal night, Alex scoring once and collecting three assists.
Coach Rob DeGagne said he’s never seen anything like in all his years of playing and coaching hockey.
“For 46 years I’ve never seen 101 shots, never. That’s amazing,” DeGagne said.
“They’re playing good. They get a little confidence in a game like this. It’s like playing out on the outdoor rinks, you know. They didn’t have very many guys. They had 13 or 14 skaters, there wasn’t much hitting going on. You can kind of do what you want to do,” DeGagne said.
Mignault and Alex Erwin scored the only goals of the first in what looked like a competitive game at that point.
However, the Iron Rangers (2-14-0) fell apart in the second.
Jacob Anttonen and Alex Maticic upped the North Stars lead to 4-0, then Mignault and Willan scored shorthanded markers 28 seconds apart. Both players would add another tally before the period ended, Ben Erwin sandwiching his first of the night between the two goals.
Thunder Bay added five more in the third.
Brock Aiken made 24 saves to pick up his second shutout of the season. Amende made an astonishing 87 saves, allowing all 14 goals.
Star gazing: Thunder Bay (13-1-1) has outscored the Miners 50-4 in four games, including 14-2 and 12-0 wins.
Scoring: 1. Thunder Bay, Mignault 13 (Anttonen, Willan) 11:16. 2. Thunder Bay, A. Erwin 4 (B. Erwin, Auger) 15:33. Penalties: None.
Scoring: 3. Thunder Bay, Anttonen 4 (Auger, Halushak) 1:20. 4. Thunder Bay, Maticic 4 (Tyska, McCollum) 7:03. 5. Thunder Bay, Mignault 14 (unassisted) 10:31 sh. 6. Thunder Bay, Willan 7 (Vecchio, McCollum) 10:59 sh. 7. Thunder Bay, B. Erwin 7 (unassisted) 13:37. 8. Thunder Bay, Willan 8 (Mignault, Auger) 19:09. 9. Thunder Bay, Mignault 15 (Gerrie, Willan) 19:23. Penalties: Halushak TB (slashing) 9:56, Halushak TB (roughing), Anttonen TB (boarding), Baker MIN (roughing) 14:24.
Scoring: 10. Thunder Bay, B. Erwin 8 (Anttonen, A. Erwin) 2:17. 11. Thunder Bay, Mignault 16 (Willan, Gerrie) 3:36. 12. Thunder Bay, B. Erwin 9 (A. Erwin, Anttonen) 8:23. 13. Thunder Bay, Willan 9 (Stubbs, B. Erwin) 11:05. 14. Thunder Bay, B. Erwin 10 (Halushak, A. Erwin) 14:37. Penalties: Kearse-Wolert MIN (hooking) 7:03, B. Erwin TB (tripping) 8:48.
GAME DATA – SOG – Minnesota 6-12-6-24, Thunder Bay 28-29-44-101; Power plays (goals-chances) – Minnesota (0-2), Thunder Bay (0-2); Goaltenders – Minnesota: Synjen Amende, Thunder Bay: Brock Aiken; A: 100.