THUNDER BAY, Ont. – There will be a new Bill Salonen Cup champion in the Superior International Junior Hockey League in 2019.
This was established Wednesday night as the Thunder Bay North Stars defeated the two-time defending SIJHL-winning Dryden GM Ice Dogs 4-1 in Game 5 of their semifinal series at the Fort William Gardens.
With the outcome, the North Stars take the best-of-seven series 4-1 and will now meet either the Red Lake Miners or Thief River Falls Norskies in the Bill Salonen Cup final, which is expected to commence next week.
Thunder Bay got off a great start, notching the evening’s initial goal, just 36 seconds in as Ryan Mignault snapped a shot on Dryden netminder Jacob Anthony that skipped high into the air, then bounced back into the GM Ice Dogs net.
The North Stars added another at 14:02 of the first as Keighan Gerrie swiped the puck behind the visitors goal then darted out front, spun and snapped in fourth of the series for an unassisted effort.
It was more from the home side in the opening moments of the second stanza when Michael Stubbs put one on the tape of Joel Willan, who was left with a tap in while parked to the right of the crease.
Willan added another at 5:20 as this time he took a Brendan Gillis feed and slid one underneath Anthony to make it 4-0.
It stayed that way until the late going when the GM Ice Dogs’ Braden Shea dashed Brock Aiken’s shutout bid with a power play goal at 19:52 that was assisted by Eric Stout and Trygve Many Guns.
In defeat, Dryden concludes a successful four-year run in the SIJHL where they made four consecutive appearances in the league final, which included winning back-to-back titles.
Meanwhile, Red Lake leads their semifinal with Thief River Falls 3-1 with the Miners having home ice Friday for Game 5, which goes at 7:30 p.m. at Cochenour Arena.
Thunder Bay North Stars vs. Dryden GM Ice Dogs
North Stars win best-of-seven series 4-1
Game 1: Thunder Bay 4 Dryden 3 (OT)
Game 2: Thunder Bay 3 Dryden 2 (2OT)
Game 3: Dryden 5 Thunder Bay 3
Game 4: Thunder Bay 3 Dryden 2 (2OT)
Game 5: Thunder Bay 4 Dryden 1
Photo credit: Rick Baraniuk