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Stars lose opener

Jeremy Adduono says championships aren’t won or lost in September.
Minnesota's Evan Erickson (right) tries to tuck the puck past North Stars goalie Eric Mann as Mathias Gardiman attempts to tie him up. (Leith Dunick,

Jeremy Adduono says championships aren’t won or lost in September.

It’s why he doesn’t plan to dwell on the Thunder Bay North Stars 5-3 defeat Wednesday at the hands of the visiting Minnesota Iron Rangers, a game the second-year coach’s squad opened with two quick scores.

It was their third loss in four games.

“The thing is, we’ve got to remember that it’s still early in the season,” Adduono said. “No team that I know has won a league title in the first month of the year. We know we have our work cut out for us. We know that each and every one of us, starting with myself, has to be better as far as our preparation and our attitude.”

Jason Reynolds was the offensive star for the Iron Rangers, potting a pair of goals past veteran Thunder Bay goalie Eric Mann, including a power-play marker late in the first that finally got Minnesota (2-1-1) on the board. 

Drew Millis also netted a pair for the visitors, his first, again on the power-play late in the second, proving to be the decisive tally.

Nicholas Nigro led the North Stars offensively, collecting a goal, his second of the young Superior International Junior Hockey League season, and an assist.

Not one to dwell on the negative side of the story, Adduono said he thought the Stars displayed plenty of positives, despite the outcome.

“I liked our start, for sure. I thought the final 20 minutes in general was pretty good. I think we had at least 15 shots in the third period and we had a goal that at least we thought was in,” Adduono said.

With less than five minutes to go in regulation and Thunder Bay trailing by two and on the power play, Kris Hamlin fed Brandon Wolframe with a cross-crease pass. Wolframe deposited the puck past Iron Rangers netminder Kyle Carignan, but the officials ruled correctly that the net had become dislodged before the goal was scored.

It made up for an earlier goal the North Stars were erroneously awarded in the first, when Cashen Tighe shoveled the puck into the net well after the whistle had blown. The goal stood, giving the Stars the aforementioned 2-0 lead at the time.

Tied 2-2 early in the second, Thunder Bay took the lead again on a pretty three-way passing play from Gardiman to Nigro to Kris Kellaway, who one-timed home his second goal of the season at the 5:11 mark.

The Iron Rangers tied five minutes later on a bit of a lucky goal, with both teams short a man.

Kyle Barna charged in on Mann and blasted the puck off the post, his momentum carrying him into the rebound, which bounced off his leg and past the surprised North Stars goalie.

Millis banged home a loose puck in the crease for the winner at 8:49 of the final stanza.

The North Stars will host the English River Miners on Friday night at Fort William Gardens.

Star gazing: SIJHL commissioner Bryan Graham confirmed he’s looking at several expansion locations and hopes to have the new teams, which would start play in 2015-16, finalized by January ... The Iron Rangers scored twice on eight power play chances while the North Stars were unsuccessful on all five man advantage situations.

: 1. Thunder Bay, Nigro 2 (Caruso, McKitrick) 12:23. 2. Thunder Bay, Tighe 1 (unassisted) 14:32.3. Minnesota, Reynolds 2 (Rupert, Millis) 16:41 pp. Penalties: Hamlin TB (cross checking) 2:17, Varrin TB (hooking) 9:47, Kellaway TB (slashing) 15:10, Mancini MIN (cross checking) 17:56.

: 4. Minnesota, Reynolds 3 (Daniliuk) 3:01. 5. Thunder Bay, Kellaway 2 (Nigro, Gardiman) 5:11. 6. Minnesota, Barna 1 (unassisted) 10:08. 7. Minnesota, Millis 2 (Reynolds) 15:48. Penalties: Caruso TB (boarding) 9:01, Erickson MIN (high sticking) 9:53, N. Anderson MIN (roughing) 10:14, Kaarela TB (cross checking) 15:02, Reynolds MIN (tripping) 18:11.

: 8. Minnesota, Millis 3 (Rupert) 8:49. Penalties: Stewart TB (cross checking) 1:02, Caruso TB (slashing) 3:39. Critser MIN (slashing) 13:44, Walsh TB (high sticking) 18:30, Routheau MIN (high sticking double minor) 18:58.

GAME DATASOG – Minnesota 15-16-8-39, Thunder Bay 7-10-14-31; Power plays (goals-chances) – Minnesota (2-8), Thunder Bay (0-5); Goaltenders – Minnesota: Kyle Carignan, Thunder Bay: Eric Mann; A: 400 (estimated).

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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