The league-leading Thunder Bay North Stars used a six-goal barrage in second period to roll to a 8-1 romp over the Fort Frances Lakers on Tuesday night at the Fort William Gardens.
Fort Frances, which only had 13 skaters in its lineup, opened the scoring near the four-minute mark of the first period when Chase Robideau darted down the length of the ice and fired his seventh of the season past North Stars’ goalie Dougie Newhouse from the right side.
That held up until early in the second, when Michael Stubbs started the hosts’ outburst just 72 seconds into the frame with his 19th.
The North Stars (38-3-1-1) then struck twice in rapid succession midway through the frame, with Ryan Mignault and Jayden Mrakic both finding the back of the net.
It was more from the North Stars from there as Jacob Anttonen, Mignault, and Alex Erwin all connected to make it 6-1 after 40 minutes.
That spelled the end of the night for Lakers’ starting goalie Jacob Gnidziejko, who was replaced by Matt Booth to start the third.
Jacob Brown added to the North Stars’ cushion just after a penalty had expired as he skated in and calmly tucked a low attempt in at 7:21.
He then capped the night’s scoring with his second of the night (and 18th overall) at 17:30.
Newhouse made 19 saves to earn his ninth-straight win.
Gnidziejko suffered the loss in allowing six goals on 39 shots while Booth handled 17-of-19 attempts he saw in relief.
The fifth-place Lakers (16-26-2-1) resume action Saturday when they host the last-place Minnesota Iron Rangers (3-44-0-0) at 7:30 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena.
Then they’ll cap the week with a road game against the fourth-place Dryden GM Ice Dogs (22-17-3-2) the following night.
Earlier Tuesday, the SIJHL announced its playoff format and dates.
The first round will feature a pair of best-of-five quarter-final series, which are slated to run from March 19-26.
Those match-ups will see the third-seeded team taking on the sixth-seeded squad (which will be the Minnesota Iron Rangers) while the other series will have the fourth- and fifth-ranked clubs squaring off.
The top two seeds have first-round byes.
Semi-final action then will see two best-of-seven series taking place from March 27-April 8.
One series will feature the top-seed meeting the lowest surviving quarter-final winner, with the other two remaining teams meeting in the other match-up.
From there, the two semi-final winners will square off for the Bill Salonen Cup in another best-of-seven set slated to run from April 10-23.
The SIJHL champion will advance to the Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canadian Jr. ‘A’ Championship on April 30-May 4 in Cochrane, which will be hosted by the Cochrane Crunch (NOJHL).
Joining the SIJHL representative and the host Crunch at the five-day event will be the title-holders of the NOJHL, along with the OJHL champs.
Should Cochrane repeat as NOJHL champs, then the league finalist will round out the four-team field.
The Dudley-Hewitt Cup winner then will advance to represent the Central region at the Canadian National Jr. ‘A’ event on May 11-19 in Brooks, Alta.
At the nationals, the host Brooks Bandits (AJHL) will go up against the Dudley-Hewitt Cup champion, the titleist from the Fred Page Cup (East), as well as the winners from both the ANAVET Cup (MJHL/SJHL) and the Doyle Cup (AJHL/BCHL).