Sioux Lookout Bombers vs Thunder Bay North Stars Series Preview

By Gary Moskalyk

Thunder Bay, ON – Special thanks to league statistician Paul Wehrstedt for doing valuable, behind-the-scenes work to keep fans and media informed throughout the season. Thank you, Pauli.

Season series: 

Sep. 22 TBN 1 at SLB 3

Sep. 23 TBN 4 at SLB 5

Oct. 27 SLB 2 at TBN 3

Oct. 28 SLB 4 at TBN 5

Oct. 29 SLB 2 at TBN 4

Nov. 9  SLB 4 at TBN 5

Dec. 9  TBN 2 at SLB 5

TBN 4-3-0 GF 24 GA 25, SLB 3-4-0, GF 25 GA 24

The home team won every single game in the seven game regular season series. None of the games went into extra time, despite the close scores. Sioux Lookout swept Fort Frances in four games, Thunder Bay took the broom to Wisconsin in the quarterfinals. The Bombers will have home ice advantage. The two teams had the fewest penalty minutes per game in the regular season, with Sioux Lookout taking home top honours. 

Thunder Bay’s top scorer in the regular season (and the SIJHL’s), Edison Weeks, is continuing the trend in the playoffs. Weeks has 11 points, with three goals and eight helpers. Defenceman Cameron Dial collected nine assists to lead all playoff scorers in the assist category.

Tyler Jordan has five goals to lead the Stars in playoff goals. Alex Remenda is tied with Jordan with seven points. Easton Mikus has four goals and one assist in four games. Beau Helmeczi has three goals and an assist, and EJ Paddington has one goal and three apples for his four points. Defenceman Sam Skillestad has three assists in his three games.

In the cage, Keenan Marks has two wins, 3.00 goals against and a .926 save percentage. Ben Laurette has two wins, a 1.00 GAA and .969 SV%.

Thunder Bay’s powerplay struck for seven goals in 12 powerplay opportunities against the Lumberjacks for a 58.3 percentage They allowed one powerplay goal against in 22 penalty kills (95.5% PK), and scored two while shorthanded.

Comments from TBN head coach Rob DeGagne.

Injuries: “We have a few little bumps and bruises, no real major injuries.” 

Scouting report on Sioux Lookout: “They are very similar to us. They have some skill guys. I think we may have a little more depth up front than they do. Our defences are very similar. Their goaltending has been very good, but our goaltending has been very good as well. We won all our games at home. They won all their games at home. Should be a good series. We’ll have to go over their power play a little bit and see how they fore-check, some tendencies they use. See if we can scout that a little bit. Basically, the team that wants it the most is going to win.”

Keys to success: “We have to play our best. Goaltending has to be good. We have to find a way to win in their rink. If we play like we can, we’ll win.”

Overall feel: “I think everybody is positive. I think everybody is on the same page. We had a really good room. It’s been like that all year. Beginning of the year we really didn’t have a great start. We’ve some big strings–eight, nine, 15 wins in a row. We’re just looking forward to have a great series, getting in front our fans. We’re excited, ready to go. Both series should be great, ours, Red Lake versus Kam River. The four teams alive should be good series’.”

Sioux Lookout’s Jonah Smith led the Bombers offensively with four goals against the Lakers. His six points ties him with Nolan Palmer (3G 3A) and rookie Kaden Veller (2G 4A). Regular season top guns Blake Burke and Owen Riffel both have three goals and two helpers. Rookie Owen Cotter (3G 1A), Connor Burke (1G 3A) and Trever Sanderson (1G 3A) round out the point per game players.

Goaltender Jack Osmond has played all 240 minutes in net. He’s up to his old self, if not better. He allowed four goals against the Lakers, with a SV% of .968. He also recorded two shutouts. 

The Bombers had eight powerplay goals in 24 chances (33.3%), allowing one goal while killing off 16 powerplays (93.8%). Like Thunder Bay, they scored two shorties.

Comments from SLB head coach Carson Johnstone.

Injuries: “We got out of the Fort Frances series with nothing really hurting us. A few bumps and bruises, that goes without saying. Nothing long term. It’s good.”

Scouting report on Thunder Bay: “Good hockey team. Skilled players. Obviously they’ve had a good solid year. We just have to make sure we’re ready to play some good solid defence, especially on bigger ice. They really get things going in the offensive zone. Their ‘d’ are pretty good along the blue line as well, they generate some good offence. Try to play more hockey in their zone than ours,” laughs. “It’s anyone’s game, right? Whoever wants it more, the team that’s will to outcompete the other team I think. At the end of the day, it will probably be what it comes down to in this series.”

Keys to success: “We’re obviously thankful we finished where we did (second, Thunder Bay third) to get the home-ice advantage to kick off the series at home. We’re focused on trying to play good in their barn. We have to make sure we’re playing well.”

The Bombers lost three straight to Thunder Bay back in late October, pretty much the low point in their year. “We played very well to start the season. It felt like we kicked ourselves in the teeth, because those games that we lost (3-2, 5-4, 4-2 all in regulation), it didn’t feel like we were beaten. We made decisions that hurt us. It was like ‘guys, figure this out. We’ve got a good hockey team here.’ In a way, it was a little bit of adversity for us. It helped get us back on track. . . Looking back, that weekend for us was huge.”

Overall feel: “Excited for the series to start. They’re a good hockey team, we’re a good team. Can be anyone’s game. This is what you live for, a series like this. It’s going to be good hockey.”