THE THUNDER BAY NORTH STARS
HOW THEY ARRIVED: Thunder Bay punched their ticket to Cochrane after claiming their first SIJHL Bill Salonen Cup
title since 2010 when they topped the Red Lake Miners four games to one in the best-of-seven final.
During the season, the North Stars ended up in top spot after posting a league-best record of 49-5-1-1.
Their efforts saw them tabbed second overall in the final Canadian Junior Hockey League Top 20 rankings.
In league semifinal play, the North Stars dethroned the two-time defending SIJHL champion Dryden GM Ice Dogs in five thrilling games, including one that needed overtime to decide a winner and two more then went to double OT, with Thunder Bay taking all three of those contests.
Thunder Bay boasts a SIJHL-record six titles to their credit.
SCORING: The league-leading North Stars boasted a plethora of offensive talent seeing four of their players finish in the Top 5 in SIJHL scoring as well as have 10 skaters register 40 or more points on the campaign.
Leading the squad were forward Keighan Gerrie and defenceman Kyle Auger as the duo amassed 102 points each in pacing the league.
Gerrie, a NCAA Division I commitment to Bowling Green (WCHA) in 2020, scored 41 times and dished out 61 assists. He is also tabbed on the most-recent NHL Central Scouting rankings list heading into this June’s NHL Draft in Vancouver.
As for Auger, he topped all SIJHL blueliners in offensive numbers, including a league-high 69 assists.
Ryan Mignault and Joel Willan were fourth and fifth respectively in SIJHL scoring with 90 and 87 points with Mignault registering a league-high nine game-winning markers.
In the playoffs, Gerrie led the North Stars and all league skaters with 16 points, including eight in the final, with eight
goals and as many assists.
He was followed by blueliner Auger, who scored three times and doled out 10 helpers, to finish second overall.
Joining them in the Top 10 were Willan with 11 points, which tied him for fifth-best in the league while Jacob Brown was
Right behind him with 10 points.
On the blueline, the trio of Auger, Logan Mihalcin and Josh Bryant combined for 24 points.
GOALTENDERS: The Thunder Bay netminding tandem of Brock Aiken and Dougie Newhouse finished one-two in nearly every league goaltending category.
Aiken was first in goals-against average (2.12), save percentage (.931) and shutouts (8) followed by Newhouse in average (2.16), save mark (.923) and shutouts (5).
Newhouse was first overall in victories with 26 while Aiken had 23.
In the playoffs, Aiken sported an 8-2 record and topped all SIJHL netminders in goals-against average at 2.17 and
Sat second in save percentage at .935.
In playoff overtime, Aiken has been even better, having not allowed a goal in nearly 80 minutes of extra work on 54 shots.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Thunder Bay topped the table in power play proficiency at 24.8% scoring 52 times in 210 opportunities. The North Stars were also No. 1 on the penalty kill at 89.4%.
Postseason play saw them click at a 25% clip as they tallied 13 times while up a skater in 52 opportunities.
They were just 79.1% on the penalty kill however, allowing nine extra-man markers in the 43 times they were shorthanded.
NORTH STARS NOTES: The North Stars featured the top three players in the SIJHL in terms of game-winning goals
during the season. … Along with Mignault’s nine, Auger had eight and Gerrie seven. … Also, of note, of Auger’s 48 career marker in the league, 14 have been game-winners. … Thunder Bay led the league in goals scored with 363. … The North Stars allowed the fewest tallies against at 122. … Mignault was second in the SIJHL in goals with 49 and Gerrie was third
with 41. … Auger led the league in power play points with 27 while Gerrie tied for third with 19. … Thunder Bay was
34-0-0-1 when scoring first in a game. … When leading after one period, the North Stars were a perfect 29-0 when leading after one and 40-0 while in front heading to the second intermission. … Thunder Bay had winning streaks of nine of more games four times this season. … The North Stars were first in SIJHL playoff attendance, averaging over 1,236 fans
per-game. … Gerrie scored on a penalty shot in a win vs. Dryden on March 29. … Thunder Bay was 5-1 at home this postseason and 3-1 on the road. … The North Stars were a perfect 3-0 in OT in the playoffs. … They were also 6-0 when scoring first in the playoffs. … Thunder Bay was 6-0 when leading after one period and the same when up following 40 minutes. … 20 players on the North Stars hail from Thunder Bay.
BEHIND THE BENCH: In his second year as head coach for Thunder Bay is Rob DeGagne. He boasts an 87-18-5-2 record behind the North Stars bench in that span.
PLAYOFF MVP: Forward Keighan Gerrie of the Thunder Bay North Stars was named the SIJHL’s Most Valuable
Player for the 2019 playoffs.
In 10 contests, the 18-year-old Thunder Bay product led all SIJHL skaters in postseason production with 16 points on eight goals and eight assists helping lead the North Stars to the Bill Salonen Cup
Gerrie was only held pointless once in the playoffs and boasted four multi-point affairs.
The highly-touted prospect is committed to attend Bowling Green State University (WCHA) on NCAA Division I scholarship in 2020.
He was also tabbed 129th overall, among North American skaters, by NHL Central Scouting, in their final rankings heading into the 2019 Draft this June in Vancouver.
LAST TIME: Thunder Bay also competed in last year’s Dudley-Hewitt Cup, held in Dryden, Ont.
There they fell in the semifinal to the eventual DHC champion Wellington Dukes, who went on to fall in the final game of the
Canadian Junior A title game.
The last time the North Stars won the Dudley-Hewitt Cup was back in 2006.
That year they defeated Sudbury in overtime on home ice.
From there they went on to fall in extra time in the semifinal of the then RBC Cup to the eventual winners from the BCHL.
Notable alumni from that team were current Buffalo Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton and St. Louis Blues defenceman