North Stars secure SIJHL regular season title with OT win over Norskies

THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn. – The Thunder Bay North Stars earned their first Superior International Junior Hockey League regular season title in nine years Saturday after defeating the Thief River Falls Norskies 6-5 in overtime Saturday evening at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

With the result, Thunder Bay improved to a SIJHL-best 40-3-1-1 on the campaign with their 82 points overall putting in a position in the standings where they cannot be caught.

First period play saw Brendan Gillis and Jayden Mrakic sandwich goals for the North Stars around one by Tyler Johnson of the Norskies.

Each side would tally once in the second stanza with Josh Bryant putting the visitors up 3-1 before Blake Nelson countered for the home side with his 25th marker of 2018-19.

Heading to the third, Keighan Gerrie put Thunder Bay back up by a pair early on only to see Thief River Falls strike three times in under a five-minute span thanks to Bryce Johnson and pair off the stick of Boe Bjorge to put the Norskies up 5-4.

Gillis countered though with his second of the evening and 16th overall with 7:13 remaining in regulation to force extra time.

In OT, Kyle Auger won it for the North Stars at 1:44 to give the guests the additional point on the night and wrap up first place overall and earn the No. 1 seed in the upcoming SIJHL playoffs.

Shots on net finished 36-35 in favour of Thunder Bay with Dougie Newhouse picking up the win while Bailey Schmitz suffered the defeat, but helped TRF salvage a point.

Photo credit: Tim Benton