Opportunistic Fighting Walleye take 3-0 series lead

Written by Leith Dunick

Calvin Morrow scored the game-winner in the third, on Kam River's first shot of the period.

THUNDER BAY – The Kam River Fighting Walleye made the most of their Game 3 shots – and are now a win away from a spot in the Bill Salonen Cup championship round.

Calvin Morrow scored on the Fighting Walleye's first shot of the third period, just shy of the six-minute mark, the goal proving to be the difference in Kam River's 5-2 win over the host Thunder Bay North Stars.

Kam River now holds a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series and can close out their Superior International Junior Hockey League semifinal in Monday night's rematch at Fort William Gardens.

It's all about cashing in on opportunities, Morrow said, his team firing just nine shots on North Stars goalie Jordan Smith in the third, scoring on three of them.

It was a similar story in the first, when the Fighting Walleye only had six shots, but scored twice, taking an early 2-0 lead before Thunder Bay rallied back to tie the game 2-2 before the opening period came to a close.

“That's what you've got to do,” said Morrow, who scored five times in 29 games during the regular season.

“Sometimes you only get a couple opportunities in a game and you've just got to bear down on those opportunities and just keep trying. Something we did well is we just got pucks on net and found a way to put them in.”

The end result, regardless of how it was achieved, has his team right where they want to be – a win away from playing for a spot at the Centennial Cup.

“We're nowhere near finished here. We've still got one more game to finish out tomorrow and we'll go from there,” Morrow said.

Kam River coach Matt Valley said they may have three wins, but it's the fourth one that's always the hardest to put in the books.

“We can't give them one,” he said. “We have to come out and close them out, give it our best effort yet.”

It was the North Stars that appeared to have the momentum in the first, but twice the home side failed to capitalize on the power play and twice the Fighting Walleye put the puck past goaltender Jordan Smith within 25 seconds of the penalty ending.

Even Enegren got Kam River on the board at the 4:06 mark of the first and Jeremy Dunmore followed four-and-a-half minutes later, stripping the puck from Thunder Bay's Dylan Bertrand and ripping a shot into the North Stars net.

The Stars, to their credit, battled back before the end of the opening period. Hunter Foreshew got the Stars on the board at the 12:07 mark and then defenceman Zach Davis blasted a shot from just inside the point that went untouched past SIJHL goaltender-of-the-year Austin Madge to even the score 2-2.

Neither team scored in the second and the North Stars fired off the first seven shots of the third, but it was Morrow that struck first.

Kam River added two more in the period, Dayton Clarke doubling the one-goal lead, taking a quick pass from Enegren off the draw and firing it home. Carson Gorst notched an insurance marker with 3:47 to go in regulation.

North Stars coach Rob DeGagne said his players know they're in a deep hole, but they're not giving up yet, the team in do-or-die time with no room for error.

“It's three games to nothing. I've played on great teams that have come back – the Thunder Bay Twins, junior hockey in North Bay in the Ontario Hockey League. So it can be done. It's going to be hard, but you're got to take it one game at a time and see what happens,” DeGagne said.

The Stars out-shot the Fighting Walleye 38-29. Game 4 is Monday night at 7:30 p.m.


Scoring:1. Kam River, Enegren (Dunmore) 4:06. 2. Kam River, Dunmore (Reich) 8:41. 3. Thunder Bay, Foreshew (Winsor, Caddo) 12:07. 4. Thunder Bay, Davis 1 (Windsor, Desjardins) 16:05 pp. Penalties: Veneruzzo KRW (head contact, misconduct, served by Woodcroft) 1:49, Gallaher KRW (interference) 6:16, Morrow KRW, (high sticking), Halushak TB (roughing) 12:39, Dunmore KRW (tripping) 14:26, Desjardins TB (tripping) 19:43.

: None. Penalties: Woodcroft KRW (tripping) 8:36, Young TB (tripping) 11:59, Woodcroft KRW (hooking) 14:14, Foreshew TB (slashing) 17:17.

: 5. Kam River, Morrow (Veneruzzo, Fortin) 5:55. 6. Kam River, Clarke (Enegren) 11:54. 7. Kam River, Gorst (unassisted) 16:13. Penalties: Foreshew TB (cross checking), Gallaher KRW (check to the head, misconduct) 6:41, Morrow KRW, Caddo TB (misconducts) 9:35, Goodman KRW (tripping) 12:24, Foreshew TB (roughing) 16:47, Morriseau KRW (slashing) 18:08, Goodman KRW (roughing), Veneruzzo, KRW (roughing), Wesley TB (roughing), Halushak TB (roughing, cross checking)

GAME DATA – SOG – Thunder Bay 15-8-15-38, Kam River 6-13-10-29; Power plays (goals-chances) – Thunder Bay (1-7), Kam River (0-5); Goaltenders – Thunder Bay: Jordan Smith, Kam River: Austin Madge; A: 2,368.