SPOONER, Wisc. – The Thunder Bay North Stars didn’t exactly roll out the welcome mat for the expansion Wisconsin Lumberjacks.
But the expansion Superior International Junior Hockey League club also didn’t prove to be a pushover in their maiden game in the six-team circuit.
The Stars needed a Joel Willan goal 57 seconds into overtime on Friday night to secure a season-opening 4-3 win over the host Lumberjacks, marking the return of the SIJHL to Wisconsin for the first time in five years.
Jacob Anttonen scored twice and Nikolas Campbell added a single for the North Stars in regulation.
Lukas Lundgren opened the scoring for the Lumberjacks 35 seconds into the contest. Wisconsin also got goals from Dalton Garcia and Cameron Birkeland, who tied the score 3-3 midway through the third for force the extra period.
Dougie Newhouse stopped 20 of 23 shots he faced to earn the win. Nathan Mueller was good on 16 of the 20 shots he faced in the Lumberjacks net.
The two teams will tangle again on Saturday night.
Fort Frances 8, Thief River Falls 2: Ethan Carlson-Jourdain scored twice and added an assist to lead the Lakers to a lopsided win over the Norskies. Ben Hoefler, Nick Swain, Noah Loveday, Stone Stelz, Jack Lane and Kale Bruyere also scored for the host Lakers. Mason McIntosh and Tyler Johnson had the Thief River Falls goals.