SIJHL Week 23 Preview

By Gary Moskalyk

Thunder Bay enjoys two weeks off before butting heads with Dryden at the Gardens March 15 and 16 to close out the season. 

Kam River 34-9-1 69 pts .784 1st GF 231 GA 121 +110 PIMs 909 PP% 27.4 PK% 81.4 at Wisconsin 14-22-6 34 pts .405 6th GF 153 GA 204 -51 PIMs 765 PP% 18.8 PK% 77.0 Tuesday

Head to head: KRW 5-1-0 WIS 1-4-1

Kam River is on a 10-game heater entering the final two weeks of the regular season. They’re in first place, two points up on Thunder Bay, three clear of Sioux Lookout.  The latest CJHL rankings have them in 16th place.

The Fighting Walleye scored 34 goals in their three games against Kenora. A number of players shot up in the scoring race as a result. Jett Mintenko leads the Walleye in scoring with 58 points (21G 37A). Five Walleye are grouped in the 12-16 range in league scoring. Jeremy Dunmore, Carter Poddubny, Nickolas Fagnilli, Ryan Doucette and Rylie Borody have 45, 44, 44, 43 and 42 points respectively. 

Brydon Bell leads all SIJHL defencemen in points with 39 in 41 games. Kaden Goodwin has 34 and defenceman Liam Bell, 31. Four more Kam River players are north of 22 points. Braeden Duchesne, 28 (16 goals), Daxton Lang, 26 in 25 games, defenceman Edwin Liang, 26, and Carter Nailen, 24 in 31 games, round out a formidable offence. 

Kam River leads the league in goals with 231 with five games to go. Two of them are against the aforementioned Islanders.

Ashton Sadauskas’ 25 wins lead the SIJHL by seven. Rookie Travis VanderZwaag recorded his second shutout against Kenora, improving his GAA to 2.77.

The Fighting Walleye lead the league with a 27.4 per cent powerplay efficiency. They’re a touch above league average in the penalty kill department with a 81.4% rating. 

Kam River averages 21.7 penalty minutes per game.

Wisconsin played Dryden tough on the road, losing by a goal on Friday in regulation, and by a goal Saturday in overtime. They entertain the first place Kam River Fighting Walleye for a one gamer to finish off the seven-game season series.

Dillon Phillips sits third in league scoring with 61 points, with 23 goals and 38 assists. Rookie Nolan Fowler has 39 points in 33 games, with 21 goals. Defenceman Ryan Kayser has been a force with 12 goals, 23 assists and 106 penalty minutes. Kayser is 4th in scoring among d-men. Kaden Postal, rookie Collin Baker, Simon Davidson, rookie ‘D’ Connor Corcoran, and rookie forwards Koen Burkholder and Marshall Thomas have 28, 26, 21, 21, 20 and 18 points respectively.

William Forrester has 1,024 minutes in the cage. Riley Burnett has 515 minutes since his first game on Dec. 16th. Forrester brings a 5-10-2 record to the crease with a 4.80 GAA and .890 SV%. Burnett is right there, sporting a 3-5-1 record, with a 5.01 GAA and .889 SV%.

On special teams, Wisconsin has an 18.8% powerplay and 77.0% penalty kill. The Lumberjacks can run and gun with the best of them and this one is a home game for the Lumberjacks. 

After a physical start to the season, Wisconsin averages 18.2 penalty minutes per game.

Sioux Lookout 31-9-4 66 pts .750 2nd GF 174 GA 102 +72 PIMs 674 PP% 23.0 PK% 85.9 at Fort Frances 9-24-6 24 pts .273 7th GF 128 GA 205 -77 PIMs 930 PP% 15.8 PK% 77.1 Fri/Sat

Head to head: SLB 5-0-0 FFL 0-3-2

Sioux Lookout has five games left to gain three points on first place Kam River. 

Owen Riffel knocking on 60 points with 30 goals and 29 helpers for 59. Blake Burke has 49 points (18 goals) and Connor Burke has an even 24 goal/24 assist split. Defenceman Dayvan Bull has 10 goals and 27 helpers, dropping to third in the d-man scoring parade. Fellow defenceman Nolan Palmer has 29 points. Owen Cotter, Cobe Delaney, Jonah Smith and rearguard Kaden Veller have 28, 27, 25 and 25 points respectively.

Superior defence has been the Bombers calling card all season. The team has allowed 102 goals in 44 games for a goals per game of 2.32. Jack Osmond has fashioned an 18-6-2 record, with a 2.23 GAA and .938 SV% in 1,558 minutes. Matthew Spencer-Dahl has enough minutes, 857, to hit the “qualified goalies” list.

He has a 9-3-2 record with a GAA of 2.03 GAA and .944 SV%. Matthew Ofukany is 4-0-0. 

The Bombers are tops in the SIJHL in “powerplay differential”. They’ve been on the PP 257 times while killing off 206 penalties for a plus-51. It stands to reason they would be–Sioux Lookout is the least penalized team in the league with 674 minutes in 44 games for an average of 15.3 per game.

The Bombers score at 23.0% clip on the powerplay, and kill off 85.9% of their penalties–tops in the SI. They’ve allowed two shorthanded while scoring seven.

Fort Frances took Thunder Bay to the limit over the weekend, ultimately losing 5-4 in both games. They secured a point in Friday’s OT thriller in Fort Frances. The Lakers are on a five game winless streak. They’ve played well enough to win some of their recent games.

Clark Scaddan and Brady Krentz are 1-2 in team scoring, and mid-season acquisition Brody Lindal is not far off the pace. Scaddan has 16 goals and 23 assists, Krentz 17 goals and 21 assists and Lindal has 17 goals and 17 helpers. Jack Wood is at 32 points. Caige Starr has 20 points, and Pierce Gouin and Magnus Pearson have 18 points each.

Jack Orchard leads the goalie corps with 1,463 minutes. He’s 4-18-3 with a 4.47 GAA and .896 SV%. Lukas Toth is 3-8-2 in 818 minutes, with a 4.55/.884 split. Gunner Paradis had a strong game against the Stars on Sunday. He’s 2-3-1 with a 4.65 GAA and .892 SV% in six starts.

The Lakers have a 15.8% powerplay and 77.1% penalty kill. They average 21.1 minutes per game in the bin.

Kam River at Kenora 2-40-1 5 pts .058 8th GF 81 GA 307 -226 PIMs 1,180 PP% 9.2 PK% 68.3 Sat/Sun

Head to head: KRW 5-0-0 KEN 0-5-0

Kenora’s had a tough year. Their four remaining scheduled games are against first place Kam River and third place Sioux Lookout (two each). All of them are at their home rink however–the Moncrief Construction Sports Centre.

Aaron Bertschinger continues to lead the team in scoring, with 14 goals and 20 assists. Brayden Mackay and John Paul Scaringi have 26 and 22 points. Brayden Swampy has 11 goals and nine assists from his defence position. 

Matthew Stephens, Kaden King and Connor Dunham-Fox share goaltending duties. Stephens has factored in all five Kenora points (two wins, shootout loss), sporting a .900 SV% with 1,080 minutes between the pipes.

The Islanders have a 9.2% powerplay and 68.3% penalty kill. They average a league-high 27.4 penalty minutes per game.

Wisconsin at Red Lake 26-16-2 54 pts .614 5th GF 187 GA 124 +63 PIMs 836 PP% 22.4 PK% 85.5 Fri/Sat

Head to head: WIS 2-1-2 RLM 3-2-0

Red Lake’s recent three-game slide has put a serious crimp in their efforts to advance beyond 5th place. They’re eight back of 4th place Dryden with five games to go. They have two games against Wisconsin, one against Fort Frances and two on the road against Kam River to end the regular season.

Aiden Corbett’s 53 points leads the team. Corbett has 26 goals and 27 assists. Luke DeCorby is in the top-20, with 15 goals and 26 assists.

Defenceman Blake Hiltermann leads all defenders with 14 goals. Adding in his 23 assists he’s at 37 points, two points behind Brydon Bell of Kam River. Hiltermann’s 113 penalty minutes is 12 minutes off the league lead.

Rookie Noah Tenney has 35 points, and d-man Gabe Tanton has 31. Nathan Dann, still idled by injury but expected back soon, is 42nd in SIJHL points with 28 in just 22 games, with 18 goals. Ryker Watt, acquired in a trade with Fort Frances, has 24 points. A pair of rookies, Ethan Cerone and Carter Deschamps, have 10 goals and 10 assists each.

Ethan Neitsch is 10-10-2 but has a 2.37 GAA and .929 SV% in 1,341 minutes. Noah Davis is 10-4-0 with a 2.75 GAA and .907 SV%. Jackson Pundyk is 2-1-0 in his four starts.

The Miners have a 22.4% powerplay and are second in penalty kill with an 85.5% rating. Red Lake’s 10 shorthanded goals lead the league.

The Miners average 19.6 penalty minutes per game, bang on the SIJHL league average.

Sioux Lookout at Dryden 30-14-2 62 pts .674 4th GF 179 GA 137 +42 PIMs 971 PP% 24.0 PK% 81.5 Sunday

Head to head: SLB 4-1-1 DRY 2-3-1

Dryden is on a five-game winning streak, and are 9-1-0 in their last ten. They’ll be challenged on Sunday with Sioux Lookout at the Dog Pound. A regulation win against the third-place Bombers will put them two points back with two games to go.

Max Roby leads the Ice Dogs in goals with 27 and points with 48. McLaren Paulsen and Eli Antoine have 41 points each. Carson Devine has 37 points while playing all 46 games. Sean Smith, 34, Ryland Maier, 29 and Bryce Benfield, 29, are next in line. Benfield should be back very soon from his lengthy suspension. He hasn’t played since January 19th. Benfield’s 29 points came in just 22 games. 

Defencemen Sebastiano Biagi and Tag Bryson both have 25 points. Forward James Hooton has been a force with 13 points in 11 games since coming back.

Ewan Soutar and Christian Lynch are formidable pair in net. Lynch has won all seven of his starts with a 1.93 GAA and .932 save percentage in 404 minutes. Soutar missed a month or so with an injury in the fall. He’s 14-7-1 in 1,372 minutes with a 2.45 GAA and .929 SV%. 

Dryden has the league’s number two ranked powerplay at 24.0%. Their penalty kill is 81.5%.

The Ice Dogs average 21.1 penalty minutes per game.