by Scott DCamp
Thief River Falls swept a weekend home and home against the Minnesota Iron Rangers to improve to 4-0 for the first time in the franchise's short history.
On Friday night, the Norskies prevailed in a shootout to pick up their third win of the young season. It was the Norskies second shootout win of the year. Chris Pedersen scored the only goal, as fellow Norskies Parker Simonson and Connor Schuster were turned away; and all three Iron Ranger attempts were denied.
Thief River Falls led early in the game, as Alec Daman scored on a pass from Blair Lindholm with 18:39 remaining in the first period.
Minnesota answered with a pair of Mark Sanchez goals at the 7:28 mark and 11:51 mark, respectively.
Minnesota made it 3-1 early in the second period, when Eli Kinsman scored off a pass from Bryce Litke.
The Norskies answered with a goal by Christian Larson, exactly one minute after Kinsman's goal, and they tied the game on a Johnny Bennis goal with 3:47 remaining in the second period.
Minnesota regained the lead on a Cole Emery goal 3:11 into the third period.
Thief River Falls answered just 16 seconds later with Simonson's fourth goal of the season on an assist from Chris Pedersen.
The two teams met again Saturday night in Thief River Falls, with the Norskies once again striking first. The Norskies took a 1-0 lead just 1;35 into the game when Boe Bjorge scored on a pass from Cody Aarvig.
The Norskies struck again 6;39 into the second period when Michael Johnson scored his first goal of the season.
Minnesota took the lead with three goals in a two-minute period.
Thief River Falls tied the game late in the second period on Simonson's fifth goal of the season, with assists credited to Pete Grytdahl and Mitchell Soderberg.
Simsonson's sixth goal of the year came 4:18 into the third period and it gave the Norskies a 4-3 lead. From there, Thief River Falls added goals by Johnson and Johnny Bennis to pull away for the 6-3 win.
Thief River Falls 5,
First Period – Thief River Falls, Daman 1 (Lindholm, Pedersen), 1:41. Minnesota, Sanchez 3 (Sturko, Brown), 7:28. Minnesota, Sanchez 4 (Brown, Sturko), 11:51. Second Period – Minnesota, Kinsman 1 (Litke, Hayes), 1:04. Thief River Falls, Larson 2 (McLain, Akervik), 2:04. Thief River Falls, Bennis 2 (Daman, Johnson), 16:13 (PP).
Third Period – Minnesota, Emery 1 (Woodward, Bjorgo), 3:11. Thief River Falls, Simonson 4 (Pedersen), 3:27.
First Overtime – No Scoring.
Shootout – Thief River Falls 1 (Pedersen G, Simonson NG, Schuster NG); Minnesota 0 (Brown NG, Kinsman NG, Horn NG).
Goalie saves – Thief River Falls, Schmitz 27 saves; Minnesota, Thompson 30.
Attendance – 178.
Thief River Falls 6,
First Period – Thief River Falls, Bjorge 2 (Aarvig, Akervik), 1:35.
Second Period – Thief River Falls, Johnson 1 6:39; Minnesota, Litke 1 (Sanchez, Sturko), 7:47; Minnesota, Hayes 2 (Kinsman, Nagy), 8:40; Minnesota, Woodward 1 (Spencer), 9:23; Thief River Falls, Simonson 5 (Grytdahl, Soderberg), 18:21.
Third Period – Thief River Falls, Simonson 6 (Johnson, Soderberg), 4:18 (PP); Thief River Falls, Johnson 2 (Pedersen, Simonson), 11:50 (PP). Thief River Falls, Bennis 3 (Schuster, Dunnell), 12:30 (PP).
Goalie saves – Minnesota, Nelson 45 saves; Thief River Falls, Schmitz 25 saves.
Attendance – 487.
w l otl sol pts
Thief River Falls 4 0 0 0 8
Dryden 3 0 0 1 7
Thunder Bay 2 0 0 0 4
Fort Frances 1 3 0 1 3
English River 1 2 0 0 2
Minnesota 0 3 0 1 1
■ Tuesday, Sept. 26 – Fort Frances 6, Dryden 5.
■ Wednesday, Sept. 27 – Thunder Bay 6, Minnesota 5.
■ Friday, Sept. 29 – Thief River Falls 5, Minnesota 4; English River 4, Fort Frances 2.
■ Saturday, Sept. 30 – Thief River Falls 6, Minnesota 3; Dryden 5, Fort Frances 1.
■ Friday, Oct. 6 – Thunder Bay at Thief River Falls 7 p.m.; Minnesota at Fort Francs 7:30 p.m.; English River at Dryden 7:30 p.m.
■ Saturday, Sept. 7 – Thunder Bay at Thief River Falls 7 p.m.; Fort Frances at Dryden 7:30 p.m.
■ Sunday, Oct. – Thunder Bay at Minnesota 5 p.m.
Norskies lead trio of SIJHL Teams in CJHL Top 20 Poll
Thief River Falls jumped 12 spots in the latest CJHL Poll, vaulting all the way from 17th to fifth. The Norskies lead a trio of SIJHL teams in the top 20. Joining them are previously unranked Thunder Bay, which debuted at the seventh spot in the top 20; and last year’s SIJHL champion Dryden, which fell two spots from seventh to ninth in this week’s poll.
CJHL 2017-18 TOP 20
(As of Oct. 2/17)
RANK TEAM (LEAGUE) (LAST RANKING) – 1. Penticton Vees (BCHL) (1); 2. Melfort Mustangs (SJHL) (3); 3. Okotoks Oilers (AJHL) (4); 4. Cobras de Terrebonne (LHJAAAQ) (10); 5. Thief River Falls Norskies (SIJHL) (17); 6. Edmundston Blizzard (MHL) (16); 7. Thunder Bay North Stars (SIJHL) (NR); 8. Battlefords North Stars (SJHL) (19); 9. Dryden GM Ice Dogs (SIJHL) (7); 10. Georgetown Raiders (OJHL) (HM); 11. Fort McMurray Oil Barons (AJHL) (2); 12. Vernon Vipers (BCHL) (NR); 13. Truro Bearcats (MHL) (NR); 14. Virden Oil Capitals (MJHL) (13); 15. Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL) (18); 16. Trail Smoke Eaters (BCHL) (NR); 17. College Français de Longueuil (LHJAAAQ); 18. Yarmouth Jr. A Mariners (MHL) (6); 19. Powassan Voodoos (NOJHL) (20); 20. Steinbach Pistons (MJHL) (9).