The Dryden GM Ice Dogs will defend their SIJHL title from a year ago.
Malcolm Huemmert and Jacen Bracko each notched a pair of goals to pace the Ice Dogs to a 10-2 romp over the visiting Fort Frances Lakers in Game 5 of their best-of-seven semi-final series yesterday afternoon.
Following a touching pre-game ceremony honouring all those affected by the horrific bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos on Friday, Dryden set the tone early by grabbing a 3-0 lead before the game was five-and-a-half minutes old on tallies by Dakotah Woods, Bracko, and Cory Dennis.
Ian Tookenay got one back for the Lakers at 7:27—only to see the Ice Dogs counter just 16 seconds later by Huemmert.
The goals kept coming from there, with Bracko adding his second of the frame just moments after that before Tookenay helped set up Jaedin Ness at 9:21 to cut it to 5-2 through 20 minutes.
Dryden extend its lead with a couple of second-period markers off the sticks of Huemmert and Eric Stout to make it 7-2.
The home side then put the finishing touches on the series in the third as Tristan Simm, Evan Walls, and Conner Mowatt rounded out the scoring.
Walls also had three assists for a four-point effort—one of eight Ice Dogs' skaters with multi-point games.
Landon Pavlisin made 24 saves to earn the win while affiliate goalie Matthew Booth turned aside 42 shots in taking the loss.
Fort Frances had come into the game after doubling the Ice Dogs 6-3 in a must-win Game 4 on Thursday night at the Ice For Kids Arena here.
With their season on the line, impressive performances by Adam Withers and Nick Lucas, along with emergency replacement goalie Brendan Mallon, helped the Lakers extend the series.
Withers scored a pair of markers and added three assists in Game 4, Lucas had four helpers, while Mallon turned in a stellar effort in making 43 saves.
The Lakers' power play was clicking in that game as they struck four times with the man advantage.
Withers opened the scoring on the first of eight Laker power plays 6:09 into the first period.
Ice Dogs' captain Trevor Kavanaugh knotted it at 1-1 with a power-play goal of his own with just 1.5 seconds left before intermission.
Dryden then took the lead early in the second—only to see the Lakers strike three times with the extra man as Withers and Jack Dunnell tallied before affiliate player Eric Pitkanen notched his first career playoff marker.
That spelled the end of the night for Dryden starter Jacob Gnidziejko, who was replaced by Pavlisin.
Pavlisin promptly was greeted by tallies from Ian Jarvis and Ness that put the Lakers up 6-2 before the third period was two-and-a-half minutes old.
Evan Walls got one back on a short-handed 2-on-1 for Dryden, but that's as close as the visitors would get.
Mallon earned the win while Gnidziejko suffered the loss in allowing four goals on 17 shots.
Pavlisin finished with 10 saves in relief.