Walleye Top North Stars for Opening Day Win

Story and Photo by Gary Moskalyk, Special to the SIJHL

Nov 27 2020

There are some “real numbers” on the stat boards as the SIJHL sinks its teeth into an abbreviated 2020-21 regular season.

Trenton Morriseau notched a hat trick and Talon Thomas picked up a pair of markers and an assist as the Kam River Fighting Walleye secured their first franchise win–ever–with a 6-2 win over the defending champion Thunder Bay North Stars.

Post-game fireworks were on the docket out at NorWest Arena but it was Morriseau and Thomas providing the in-game version.

“Just wanted to contribute to the team’s success, great effort by everyone. Great to get the first win under our belt. It can only get better from here,” said Morriseau. “Everyone was just going. Everyone chipped in some way tonight.”

Nikolas Campbell batted in a rebound at 27 seconds of the first to open the scoring for the North Stars. Thomas replied at 18:46 of the frame on a Fighting Walleye power play.

Morriseau’s his first goal of the night came at 4:31 of the second on a power play and Carson Gorst increased the lead two minutes later.

Campbell made it a one-goal game just nine seconds into the third on a North Stars’ powerplay.

Austin Madge made the save of the night robbing Austin Cardinal from the doorstep with Thunder Bay up two men nine minutes into the third. Kam River killed off an extended two-man North Star advantage. Thomas banged in his second of the night with nine minutes left for a 4-2 Walleye lead.

Thomas, a 6’6″ 230-lb forward out of Duck Lake, SK, was playing in his first game of the year.

“It hit me in the heart for sure, felt special, felt cool,” said Thomas of the first goal in team history. “Another shot on goal, another goal. Turned out to go in. It was fun.

“I don’t have many words. It’s a first for everything, he continued. “I enjoyed it for sure. I think my teammates enjoyed it. Just trying to come in, help the younger guys a lot. Have some fun this season. Hopefully do something with this young squad here.”

Morriseau scored his second of the game on Kam River’s own two-man advantage to provide a three-goal lead, then buried an empty-netter with 26.4 seconds on the clock for his hat trick. In all, Kam River had three powerplay goals to Thunder Bay’s one.

“(Thomas) is an experienced player. He’s obviously got the size, but more importantly he’s got the brain and heart,” said winning coach Matt Valley. “The guys gravitated toward him when he was here a few weeks ago. He had to go home for family stuff. He came back, made his presence felt.

“We’re a young group, coaching staff included,” Valley continued. “We don’t let that be a negative. We use that to our advantage, I think. . . The message these last few weeks is just compete. Work as hard as you can work, that’s all we can ask. If you don’t match a skilled teams’ work ethic you’ll lose every time.

“At the end of the day we got a good goaltending performance and I think a good team effort where there was timely scoring, and our special teams sharpened up which we’ve been working on a lot, too. Everything came together in a good way.”

Madge stopped 34 of 36 shots for the win, while Jacob Stone faced 22 shots in the Thunder Bay net in the loss.

Keaton Mercredi had two assists for the Walleye.

Game six of Teleco Cup is Saturday at Norwest, before concluding next week end at the Fort William Gardens.