HOYT LAKES, Minn. – Despite a frosty cold snap that has gripped northern Minnesota and northwestern Ontario the past few days, the action on the ice is sure to be hotly contested as the Superior International Junior Hockey League holds in annual Showcase Tuesday and Wednesday in Hoyt Lakes, Minn.
All six SIJHL member clubs will be competing over the course of the two-day event with three games per-day on the docket that all count towards the overall standings.
Game action begins with a 1 p.m. CT matinee Tuesday afternoon as the SIJHL-leading Thunder Bay North Stars take on the Fort Frances Lakers at Hoyt Lakes Arena.
Next up will feature the Dryden GM Ice Dogs tangling with the Thief River Falls Norskies at 4:15 p.m. CT before Day 1 concludes with the host Minnesota Iron Rangers meeting the Red Lake Miners at 7:30 p.m. CT.
Wednesday’s slate has two long-time league rivals, in Dryden and Thunder Bay, renewing acquaintances at 1 p.m. CT while Thief River Falls and Red Lake go at it at 4:15 p.m. CT before the Showcase wraps up with Fort Frances and Minnesota facing off at 7:30 p.m. CT.
SIJHL SHOWCASE SCHEDULE
Tuesday, Jan. 29
Fort Frances Lakers vs. Thunder Bay North Stars 1 p.m. CT
Dryden GM Ice Dogs vs. Thief River Falls Norskies 4:15 p.m. CT
Red Lake Miners vs. Minnesota Iron Rangers 7:30 p.m. CT
Wednesday, Jan. 30
Thunder Bay North Stars vs. Dryden GM Ice Dogs 1 p.m. CT
Thief River Falls Norskies vs. Red Lake Miners 4:15 p.m.
Minnesota Iron Rangers vs. Fort Frances Lakers 7:30 p.m.
ONLINE ACTION: Each SIJHL Showcase match-up will be streamed live online via HockeyTV.com.
Live game summaries can also be viewed through the league website at sijhlhockey.com as well as on the SIJHL app.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
KEIGHAN GERRIE, (F) THUNDER BAY NORTH STARS
Among those highlighted by scouts attending the SIJHL Showcase to keep a keen eye on is Thunder Bay North Stars second-year forward Keighan Gerrie.
Last week saw the 17-year-old Thunder Bay product named by National Hockey League Central Scouting to their mid-term rankings as a prelude to the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver.
Gerrie was tabbed 140th overall, among North American skaters, in the mid-term listings.
Also last week he represented the SIJHL at the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s Prospects Game that was held in Okotoks, Alta, which featured 40 of the top CJHL draft hopefuls.
His Team West side went on to skate to a 5-2 victory over Team East with the line-ups for both sides being selected by NHL Central Scouting.
In his second campaign with the North Stars, Gerrie has produced 107 points in 84 career contests on 50 goals and 57 assists.
He has already set personal single-season highs in tallies, helpers and points so far in 2018-19.
His five game-winning markers tie him for second among all SIJHL skaters.
BRYCE YOUNG, (F) RED LAKE MINERS
Young is having a terrific first campaign in Red Lake.
The 19-year-old from The Pas, Man., enters the Showcase leading the SIJHL in both goals and points with 43 and 69 respectively.
He also paces all league players in power play markers with 11 and shorthanded tallies with four.
RYAN MIGNAULT, (F) THUNDER BAY NORTH STARS
Sitting second in SIJHL offensive production is veteran forward Mignault.
He boasts 63 points to his credit, including 35 goals, with his half dozen game-winning efforts leading the league.
In his past four games alone, Mignault has scored seven times and has dished out as many assists.
KYLE AUGER, (D) THUNDER BAY NORTH STARS
Coming off a 12-point week, Auger is the runaway leader in offensive production among SIJHL defenceman.
He tops the league in assists with 46 and his 62 points to date put him third overall in the league.
BOE BJORGE, (F) THIEF RIVER FALLS NORSKIES
A lot of the success the Norskies have had so far this season can be attributed to Bjorge.
He leads Thief River Falls offensively with 56 points while he and Alec Daman share the club lead in goals with 21 apiece.
Earlier in the campaign, Bjorge produced a 19-game point streak and he also earned SIJHL Performer of the Month laurels for December.
MICHAEL DI LULLO, (F) RED LAKE MINERS
Set to appear in his 130th SIJHL contest Tuesday, the Miners’ captain has played at over a point-per-game pace in his career with 131 in 129 outings on 57 markers and 74 helpers.
ERIC STOUT, (F) DRYDEN GM ICE DOGS
Another prolific scorer in his time in the SIJHL, Stout’s efforts on the ice helped Dryden capture back-to-back Bill Salonen Cup championships.
He has amassed 170 points through his first 126 games while scoring 82 times and helping set-up 88 others.
NICK LUCAS, (F) FORT FRANCES LAKERS
In his second year with the Lakers, the 19-year-old from Cottage Grove, Minn., leads Fort Frances in scoring with 41 points in 35 games on 15 goals and 26 assists.
Lucas also led the Lakers in offensive production in 2017-18.
CONNOR BOWEY, (D) THIEF RIVER FALLS NORSKIES
Another solid SIJHL blueliner, Bowey sits second in scoring among league D-men with 40 points on eight tallies and 32 assists.
The 19-year-old, who hails from Winnipeg, Man., has appeared in 110 SIJHL contests and is just four points shy of the century mark, on 22 goals and 74 helpers.
BROCK AIKEN, (G) THUNDER BAY NORTH STARS
Aiken’s efforts in net have helped Thunder Bay sit in first place in the SIJHL standings the majority of the season as well as sit as the No. 2 ranked club in the entire 133-team Canadian Junior Hockey League the past two months.
Manning the nets for his hometown North Stars side, the 19-year-old has yet to lose in regulation in 2018-19 while sporting a 15-0-1 record.
He also leads all SIJHL netminders in wins (15); goals-against average (2.31); save percentage (.931) and shutouts (3).
BAILEY SCHMITZ, (G) THIEF RIVER FALLS NORSKIES
In his second year with the Norskies, the 19-year-old from Red Lake Falls, Minn., has 34 victories to his credit and seven career shutouts.
Schmitz is tied for second in wins this season with 14 and is fourth in average at 2.85 and knotted for fourth in save percentage with teammate Fletcher Bolda at .912.
TREY PALERMO, (F) DRYDEN GM ICE DOGS
As captain of his hometown Dryden squad, Palermo boasts being part of two straight SIJHL championship-winning teams.
He has already matched a career-best in assists this season with 32 and is just five points shy of a single campaign point total of 44.
In 123 career contests, Palermo has registered 113 points on 32 goals and 81 assists.
BRETT HAHKALA, (F) FORT FRANCES LAKERS
The Fort Frances product has scored 11 times so far this season, to tie him with teammate Kirk Coppock for second on the squad in goals.
The 19-year-old is second on the Lakers in points with 27, which he has totalled in just 26 games.
NICK CORNELIUSEN, (G) MINNESOTA IRON RANGERS
Corneliusen enters the SIJHL Showcase leading all SIJHL netminders in saves.
So far this season the 19-year-old Thief River Falls, Minn., native has made close to 1,000 stops in 2018-19 with 991 in total.
That is 278 more than his nearest rival in that category, in Jacob Gnidziejko of the Fort Frances Lakers, who has 713 saves to his credit.
The Iron Ranger’s other goalkeeper, Synjen Amende, sits third in saves made with 662.
SPENCER MILNE, (F) RED LAKE MINERS
Milne is a 50-point man for the second place Miners already this season.
The 19-year-old from Edmonton, Alta., is also just three points shy of the century mark in his time in the SIJHL with 97 points in 87 outings on 34 goals and 63 assists.
JOSHUA BAKER, (F) MINNESOTA IRON RANGERS
Since joining the Iron Rangers earlier this season, Baker has played at close to a point-per-game clip for Minnesota.
He has nine goals and six assists in his first 19 games in the league.