The Dryden GM Ice Dogs were in a dog fight last night at home against the Thunder Bay North Stars.
After a thrilling game, it was the North Stars that prevailed with a 2-1 overtime win to give them their third win in a row.
Dryden assistant coach Andrew Perrault mentioned after the game a fault of the team was a lack of a full 60-minute effort.
“We didn’t show up the full 60 minutes that we needed, and we didn’t capitalize on the time that we did stick to the game plan and it cost us,” said Perrault
Emotion ran through the arena leading up to the start of the game as last night was the team’s inaugural Truth and Reconciliation Game.
Dryden wanted to use hockey as a platform to honor the wrongs taken against our First Peoples in the past and come together to begin to lead the healing process.
A 30-minute ceremony took place prior to the game's start. The ceremony started off with the Little Feather Drummers. That was followed by speeches from Eagle Lake Chief Arnold Gardner, Dryden Councillor and Working Circle Co-Chair Shayne MacKinnon, SIJHL Commissioner Darrin Nicholas, and Truth and Reconciliation Game Chair Natasha Lovenuk.
The Ice Dogs also honoured former Indigenous, Metis, and Inuit players from Eagle Lake First Nation and Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation. (Trevor Kavanaugh, Tim Kavanaugh, Curtis Barker, Sheldon Adams, Matthew Pitchenese, and Troy Williams).
Reggie and Jamie Leach the first Indigenous father-son player duo to win the Stanley Cup were in attendance for the occasion. The two addressed the crowd on behalf of the Every Child Matter movement as well as took part in the ceremonial puck drop.
The Ice Dogs also sported special orange jerseys in honour of the Truth and Reconciliation Game.
Once the game finally got started it didn’t take long for the game's opening goal. Raj Sangha got the visiting team on the board first as he took a pass from Hunter Foreshaw and fired a shot below the crossbar past a screened Jordan Belley.
The was the only scoring that took place in the first period. The shots after 20 minutes were 14-13 for Thunder Bay.
The second period saw more of the defensive battle and great goaltending the first period had.
But late in the second the Ice Dogs were able to put one on the board, and tie the game. Kale Hancock was able to win a puck battle along the boards and came out in front of the net all alone and slid the puck through the legs of North Stars goalie Connor Lemieux with 12 seconds to play.
Hancock’s goal was his first in the Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL).
After 40 minutes the shots were 18-14 in favour of Dryden.
The third period saw Thunder Bay put 21 shots against Belley but couldn’t beat the Coeur D’Alene, Idaho product.
Dryden has a golden opportunity late in the game as the North Stars were given a four-minute high sticking penalty.
Dryden GM recorded four shots and a post but couldn’t find the back of the net.
At the end of the third, the score remained 1-1, with the shots being 21-9 Thunder Bay.
The play opened up in the 3-on-3 overtime, with both teams trading end-to-end rushes and battling to get the game-winner.
Raj Sangha was able to get his second of the game with 1:38 left in the overtime. He was able to capitalize on his second shot opportunity to win the game for the North Stars.
The final score being 2-1 North Stars, with the final shot count being 53-43 Thunder Bay.
Dryden’s Jordan Belley took the overtime loss-making 51 saves in his performance.
Connor Lemieux in his second career SIJHL start made 42 saves for the win.
The win last night for Thunder Bay capped off their third win in three nights and leap-frogged them into first place in the league with a 3-1-0-0 record and six points.
Dryden still got a point in the loss and kept them in second place with a 2-1-1-0 record and five points.
The Ice Dogs will regroup and prepare for next weekend when they host the Red Lake Miners for a pair of home games.
"The focus in practice is just going to be continuing working on the game plan that we have set in place. We know the game plan works when we're working a full 60 minutes with the game plan, we should be able to hold our own no matter where we are. I think the biggest thing is to work on our play, work on our special teams a little bit more, and hopefully have a good week of high-intensity practices here and go into the weekend flying," noted Perrault
The attendance for last night's game was 500 people.