Lakers open SIJHL final with a split
Nobody said this was going to be easy.
The Minnesota Iron Rangers signalled it could be a long road to the Bill Salonen Cup by recovering from a heart-breaker a day earlier to edge the Fort Frances Lakers 3-2 in Game 2 of the best-of-seven final Saturday night at the Ice For Kids Arena.
The Lakers escaped with a 1-0 win in double overtime in Game 1 here Friday night, but now will have to win at least one road game to avoid falling in the SIJHL final for the third-straight year.
Miles Nolan continued his fantastic playoff run for the Lakers by netting the game-winner at 10:32 of the second extra session Friday for his league-high 13th goal this post-season.
“I got the puck from [Brent] Aiken and took a shot off the side of the net,” he recalled.
“The puck went over to [Kevin] Kurm and he tipped it back to me.
“I had it on the goal line and I saw the goalie [Alex Reichle]cheat over a bit, and I just flipped it over him,” Nolan added.
Lakers’ head coach and general manager Wayne Strachan couldn’t help but smile over the amazing story being written in the playoffs by the “KAN Line” of Kurm, Aiken, and Nolan.
“When you’re hot, you’re hot,” he mused.
“It’s a fitting story for him and his linemates to get the winner.”
Lakers’ goalie Devin Tappenden stopped all 39 shots directed his way to earn his second shutout of the playoffs.
Meanwhile, Reichle, who robbed several Lakers during the evening, and in particular Nolan on a point-blank chance with 2:47 left in the third period, took the loss despite racking up 45 saves.
The Lakers carried the momentum into Game 2—grabbing a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes on goals by Kurm and Donovan Cousineau sandwiched around Sam Mancini’s marker for Minnesota.
Mancini tied the game with his second of the night late in the second period.
Matt O’Dea then played the hero for the Rangers as he drove the net and deflected Evan Erickson’s shot from the side boards past Tappenden to put the visitors in front to stay.
Reichle made 32 saves to earn the victory while Tappenden had 24.
The series now shifts south to Hoyt Lakes for Game 3 on Wednesday and Game 4 on Thursday.
The Lakers are organizing a fan bus to head down to the games on both days.
It will leave from the Memorial Sports Centre at 3 p.m. each day and return that night.
The cost is $30 per person per trip to cover the cost of the bus.
Those interested are responsible for buying their own game ticket upon arriving in Hoyt Lakes, as well as their own food.
There is room for 56 people on each bus, with the deadline to register being tomorrow at 6 p.m.
Anyone wanting to go can call Eugene McPherson at 274-9679 or 275-7610.
The weekend split also ensures Game 5 will be played this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. back at the IFK Arena.