SIJHL Week 1 Recap

The SIJHL is back! Opening weekend had plenty of action with all 8 teams playing 2 games, including the first ever home games for the league’s newest team, the Kenora Islanders. Gary Moskalyk has the recap for all of the weekend’s action.

By Gary Moskalyk

Red Lake 6 at Kam River 3 Sep 22 2023

The good times continue to roll for Red Lake. Noah Tenney and Brody Lindal had a goal and two assists each, head coach Lee Stone garnered his first SIJHL win, and the Miners scored three in the final 10 minutes to hand Kam River their first home opener loss in franchise history with a 6-3 victory at Norwest Arena.

Trent Boryszczuk made 23 saves for the win.

The Miners were 4-0 in exhibition play and continued to roll in regular season action. 

Luke DeCorby had a pair of assists for Red Lake. Blake Hiltermann, Gavin McIntosh, Skyler Carriere and Aiden Corbett had singles for the Miners. Cole Fraser, Daxton Lang and Kaden Goodwin replied for the Walleye. Rookie Walleye head coach Jesse Messier saw his team outshoot Red Lake 26-18.

Ashton Sadauskas shouldered the loss for the Walleye.

Kam River led 1-0 through 20 minutes. Red Lake scored three in the second. Goodwin scored on a feed from Max Wright and Lang notched a shorthanded marker to tie things up midway through the third. Tenney got his goal just 25 seconds after Lang on the powerplay, and Hiltermann and Lindal struck 25 seconds apart at 15:20 and 15:45 to salt away the win.

Kevin Bragnalo and Scott Wrigley handed out 17 minor penalties–10 to the Walleye.

Attendance was a Thunder City Speedway reduced crowd of 401. 

Game 2

Red Lake 3 at Kam River 4 Sep 23 2023

Walleye head coach Jesse Messier recorded his first SIJHL win at the helm as Kam River defeated Red Lake 4-3 at Norwest Arena. Rookie goaltender Travis VanderZwaag made 35 stops, and defenceman Brydon Bell had a goal and two assists as the Walleye evened their record at 1-1 and dropped the Miners record to 1-1.

After a scoreless first Luke DeCorby scored at 58 seconds, beating VanderZwaag high glove for a 1-0 Miner lead. Bell scored unassisted at 8:19 and Jeremy Dunmore connected on feeds from Bell and Kobe Braham at 12:16 on a Walleye powerplay to give Kam River the lead. Kyle Schechtel’s unassisted marker 39 seconds later tied the game, but Edwin Liang’s goal at 18:03 gave the Walleye a 3-2 edge heading into the third.

Creegan Tompkins scored at 8:15 of third with assists from Braeden Duchesne and Bell to open up a two-goal margin. Noah Tenney’s second of the campaign at 17:32 tightened the score, but Kam was able to keep the Miners at bay and Trent Boryszczuk in his net for the most part to kill off the clock and preserve the hometown win.

Boryszczuk evened his record at 1-1 in his second consecutive start. He stopped 39 of 43.

Gavin McIntosh had two helpers for Red Lake.

The Miners were 0-5 with man advantage while Kam capitalized once in four tries.

Kam River had 12 of the 22 penalty minutes meted out.

Red Lake takes on Dryden in a home and home series next weekend, while Kam River loads up the bus for a lone Friday game against Fort Frances.


Wisconsin 3 at Kenora 4 Shootout Sep 22 2023

One game in and the expansion Kenora Islanders already have a classic gameunder their belt. And they’re tied for first place, too. Reid Zurkan beat William Forrester glove side–the 10th man in the shootout–as the Kenora Islanders defeated Wisconsin 4-3 before 787 fans at Moncrief Construction Sports Centre.

Islanders goalie Matt Stephens stopped 37 of 40 and Forrester turned aside 28 of 31 in 65 minutes of play. Stephens made a 10-bell save on Wisconsin’s William McDonnel, and Forrester stoned Kenora’s Brayden Mackay in 3-on-3 overtime. Braden Swampy beat Forrester but not the post as Kenora’s 4th shooter. The Kenora-born Zurkan clicked on the 5th, making rookie head coach Cody Genaille a winner in his first game.

The irony of it all is that shootout goals don’t count in the scoring totals. Zurkan had 12 penalty minutes in the game but scored a most historic goal. Darian Sinclair scored the first goal in franchise history at 5:48 of the first. Kaden Postal tied it at 14:46. Wisconsin took a pair of leads in the second. Simon Davidson made it 2-1, Jayden MacPherson-Nepinak tied it at 2-all, and Bradyn Young gave the Lumberjacks a 3-2 lead heading into the 3rd. Aaron Bertschinger knotted the score at 3-all at 11:52 of the third.

Wisconsin had 28 penalty minutes. Kenora had 26 in a feisty contest. Both teams scored a goal on the powerplay.

Game 2

Wisconsin 7 at Kenora 4 Sep 23 2023

Wisconsin broke open a 4-4 tie with the last three goals of the game to defeat the Kenora Islanders 7-4. Zach Johnson had a pair of goals, Koen Burkholder had a goal and two assists, Ryan Kayser and Maddox Achtor had a goal and assist each, and Axel Wyatt had two assists to lead the Lumberjacks’ attack. Jeremiah Jacques had two goals and Aaron Bertschinger had a goal and assist to propel the Islanders.

William Forrester evened his record at 1-1 with his second start, while former North Star Jero Rossi was on the hook for six in the Lakers net.

Wisconsin opened up a three-goal lead and led 3-1 through the first period. Kayser, Achtor and Johnson scored for Wisconsin. Bertschinger got his second of the season at 16:23 on an Islander power play to tighten the score to 3-1. 

Kenora fought back to tie it in the second. Jacques scored at 8:35 and Keelian Lavasseur at 10:26. Burkholder re-established Wisconsin’s one-goal lead at 15:53.

Jacques notched his second, a shorthanded goal at 6:40 of the third to re-tie the game at 4-4. Kenora stripped the puck at their own blue-line and rumbled in on a two-on-one. Jacques fired a “sizzler” past Forrester as a crowd of 639 erupted in approval.

Johnson and the Lumberjacks had other plans, however. Wisconsin maintained good zone pressure. Johnson corralled a loose puck on the side boards, walked out in front and scored his second of the game at 8:10 to put the visitors up for good. Simon Davidson added to the lead and Dillon Phillips got an empty-netter with 40 seconds left.

Kenora took 18 of the 30 penalty minutes assessed by referees Travis Batters and Jon Kocis. Shots on goal were unavailable.

Wisconsin entertains the 2-0 Sioux Lookout Bombers next Friday and Saturday. The 0-2 Thunder Bay North Stars travel to the Moncrief Construction Sports Centre for a pair against the Islanders Saturday and Sunday. 


Fort Frances 1 at Dryden 4 Sept 22 2023

There’ll be no 0-3 start for the Dryden Ice Dogs this year. Defenceman Sebastiano Biagi scored a pair and Braxton Castagno came within 1:22 of a shutout as the Dogs defeated Fort Frances 4-1 before a robust crowd of 507 at the Dryden Memorial Arena.

Castagno stopped 29 for his first SIJHL win.

Ryland Maier opened the scoring for Dryden at 4:46 of the first. Nathan Prodanuk and Biagi added second period markers for the Ice Dogs to open up a three-goal lead.

Trevor Sanderson scored late in the third on a Fort Frances powerplay to narrow the score. Lakers’ coach Tyler Miller was able to pull starting goaltender Jack Orchard with 1:04 to go. Biagi’s empty-netter with 36 seconds left kiboshed the strategy to send head coach Kurt Walsten home with a win to open the season.

Fort Frances was 1-9 on the powerplay as the Ice Dogs racked up 32 penalty minutes. Dryden was 0-6 with the man advantage. The Lakers took six minors.

Maier was awarded a penalty shot at 9:30 of the third while Dryden was shorthanded. Orchard was able to glove the attempt to keep the score at 3-0 and give the Lakers a chance to come back.

Orchard was 32-35 in his first start as a Laker. 

Game 2

Fort Frances 0 at Dryden 4 Sep 23 2023

Ewan Soutar recorded a shutout in his first SIJHL start and nine different Ice Dogs had a point each as Dryden upped their record to 2-0 with a convincing 4-0 victory over the visiting Lakers. Soutar faced 21 shots while his counterpart, Jack Orchard, faced 49. 

Sebastiano Biagi opened the scoring at 1:37 of the first on assists from Ryland Maier and McLaren Paulsen. Biagi, a defenceman, has three goals on the year. Biagi came in from his defensive position and cashed in with a low shot. Harrison James doubled the lead at 14:41.

Max Roby scored unassisted at 8:28 of the second with a nasty wrister from the high slot and Elias Eisenbarth stashed in a rebound at 15:07 of the middle frame to finish off the scoring.

Referees Adam Blando and Edward Jung were busy. Fort Frances took 40 minutes in penalties while Dryden spent 38 minutes in the bin. Fort was 0-6 on the powerplay. Eisenbarth’s effort on a feed from Adam Zimmerman gave the Dogs one PP goal in seven tries and their first of the season.

The game attracted 486 fans. 

Dryden has a home-and-home series with Red Lake next weekend, while Fort Frances entertains Kam River in a lone Friday night contest.


 Thunder Bay 1 at Sioux Lookout 3 Sep 22 2023

Jonah Smith scored two and Matthew Spencer-Dahl saved 37 of 38 as the Sioux Lookout Bombers defeated the Thunder Bay North Stars 3-1 at the Hangar in Sioux Lookout. 

The match-up jammed the place with 786 fans in attendance.

EJ Paddington scored on assists from Easton Mikus and Edison Weeks on a Stars’ power play to open the scoring at 17:37 of the first. Dayvan Bull found a wide open Smith at 12:19 of the second frame as the Bombers tied it up.  Smith got the game-winner on a Bombers two-on-one. As he approached the left circle faceoff dot he sniped the top shelf on Keenan Marks’ blocker side. Beau Bannerman and Alex Lucas collected assists. Thunder Bay pulled Marks with two minutes left to no avail. Owen Carter scored unassisted from 80 feet out into a yawning cage with two seconds left to seal the deal. Marks stopped 30 of 32 in the Stars’ net. 

Thunder Bay was 1-3 on the powerplay while Sioux Lookout was 0-4. The Stars took six of the 10 minor penalties handed out.

Game 2

Thunder Bay 4 at Sioux Lookout 5 Sep 23 2023

Owen Riffel fired a hat trick, his third goal proving to be the game-winner, as Sioux Lookout defeated Thunder Bay 5-4 before 430 fans at the Hangar.

Sioux Lookout is tied with Dryden atop the SIJHL standings with a 2-0 record after sweeping Thunder Bay. The Bombers struck for three powerplay goals in the contest. Riffel snapped up a rebound at 3:03 of the first for a 1-0 Sioux Lookout lead. EJ Paddington tied it up at 12:54.

The Bombers had three of the five goals scored in the second. Riffel got his second less than a minute in on a Bomber powerplay. Alex Lucas scored unassisted to up the lead to 3-1. Edison Weeks notched his first for the Thunder Bay at 10:43 only to see Blake Burke score on a powerplay 65 seconds later.

Easton Mikus scored his first SIJHL goal with seven seconds left in the second frame to cut the Bomber lead to 4-3. Max Buffone garnered his first of the season at 9:10 to pull Thunder Bay even at 4-all. Riffel got his third 18 seconds into a Bombers powerplay at 15:53. Blake Burke stymied a clearing attempt and Riffel was right there to pick up the puck and fire it past Ethan Barron. A lone toque hit the ice to mark the occasion.

Thunder Bay took a late penalty but Dimitri Trahiotis was stymied by winning goaltender Michael Ofukany from close in with just over a minute left. Thunder Bay got Barron out for the closing seconds but couldn’t find the equalizer.

Ofukany stopped 33 of 37 for his first win. Barron turned aside 28 of 33 in his SIJHL debut. Sioux Lookout took 40 of the 68 penalty minutes whistled by Steve Anderson and Whitney Van Horne.

Thunder Bay was 0-5 and Sioux Lookout was 3-8 on the powerplay.

Sioux Lookout makes the 670 kilometer trek to Spooner to play Wisconsin Friday and Saturday. Thunder Bay heads off to Kenora for a Saturday/Sunday date with the Islanders.