THUNDER BAY, Ont. – Thunder Bay North Stars had a four-point night from rookie forward Keighan Gerrie and picked up the game-winner off the stick of Kyle Auger to help them defeat the Minnesota Iron Rangers 6-4 Monday in Game 1 of their Superior International Junior Hockey League series held at the Fort William Gardens.
Eli Kinsman staked the visiting Iron Rangers to an early lead as he went coast-to-coast darting around a number of North Stars’ players and finish off a highlight reel goal just 26 seconds into the contest.
Thunder Bay would tie it at 16:56 of the first after some nice work along the boards by Alex Maticic allowed Avery Siau to make a nifty behind the back pass in front to an open Gerrie who snapped a shot high on Minnesota goaltender Tyler Thompson.
The home side then took the lead in the final minute of the frame when a Gerrie cross-crease pass gave Brendan Gillis a tap in at 19:08.
Battling back, Kinsman added another quick marker as he buried his second of the night after taking a Joel Nagy feed from behind the net.
Going back and forth, the Iron Rangers went back on top four and a half minutes into the middle session with Aaron Koivunen fooling Thunder Bay goalkeeper Brandon Bodnar from close range.
Continuing to trade tallies, the North Stars drew level once more with Siau and Maticic doing the work to allow Gerrie notch his second of the evening.
The goals kept coming in the middle session with Troy Sherman lifting in a backhand past Thompson to put Thunder Bay into the lead once more only to see Koivunen add another during a two-man advantage to knot the affair at 4-4 after 40 minutes
Auger would get the eventual game-winner for the North Stars as he knocked in the decider off the shaft of his stick following an Owen Belisle attempt on net.
Then with the Minnesota netminder pulled for an extra attacker, Siau took a Gerrie feed and iced it with an empty netter from the centre ice red line to secure the win for Thunder Bay.
Shots on goal in the match-up favoured Thunder Bay 59-30.
The two teams will now meet again Tuesday in Game 2 back at the Gardens at 7:30 p.m.
No. 3 Thunder Bay North Stars vs. No. 6 Minnesota Iron Rangers
Thunder Bay leads best-of-five series 1-0
Game 1: Thunder Bay 6 Minnesota 4
Game 2: Tuesday, March 20 @ Thunder Bay 7:30 p.m. ET (Gardens)
Game 3: Thursday, March 22 @ Minnesota 7:30 p.m. CT (Hoyt Lakes)
Game 4*: Sunday, March 25 @ Minnesota 7:30 p.m. CT (Hoyt Lakes)
Game 5*: Tuesday, March 27 @ Thunder Bay 7:30 p.m. ET (Gardens)
*- if necessary
Photo credit: Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com