THUNDER BAY, Ont. – Cody Bruchkowski had a hat trick while Alex Erwin got the game-winner late in overtime as the Thunder Bay North Stars slipped past the Fort Frances Lakers 6-5 Friday night in a Superior International Junior Hockey League match-up at the Fort William Gardens.
A free-wheeling first period saw sides erupt for seven goals beginning with a Nikolas Campbell power play marker for the North Stars, three minutes in.
The Lakers came right back with a man advantage effort of their own moments later thanks to Tyler Malpass.
Nakoda Thunderchief then buried one from the slot for Fort Frances midway through the session, before Bruchkowski answered that with his first on the next shift.
Up a skater, Flynn Perry put the guests back into the lead at 15:16 before Bruchkowski bagged another at 17:32.
Answering swiftly once again, Malpass made it 4-3 Lakers just after that.
Bruchkowski then hit his sixth hat trick of the campaign and 58th tally overall, which is the third-most in SIJHL history, in a single season, behind Kory McEwen’s (North Stars) 69 in 2005-06 and Bryce Young’s (Miners) 60 in 2018-19.
Thunder Bay then went back in front nine seconds into the third as Joel Willan broke in and tucked in his 20th.
Then with regulation time winding down, the Lakers forced OT with an extra attacker as Malpass jammed in his third of the evening at 19:38.
Late in the extra session though, the North Stars would prevail with Erwin stuffing in the decider from close range to give the home side the win.
Logan Mihalcin had three assists to help lead the hosts, including one on the winner.
Dylan Kosik picked up the victory in relief for Thunder Bay, stopping 19 of 21 while starter Seth McKay allowed 10 of 13 in just over 15 minutes of work.
The two clubs will complete a weekend home-and-home Saturday in Fort Frances at 7:30 p.m.
Photo credit: Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com