Lakers fall in double overtime
The Fort Frances Lakers not only lost the game, but perhaps their No. 1 goalie, as well.
Jason Reynolds scored on an odd-man rush 40 seconds into the second overtime to give the Minnesota Iron Rangers a 5-4 victory in Game 3 of the SIJHL’s best-of-seven Bill Salonen Cup final last night in Hoyt Lakes, Minn.
“Then our defenceman made a bad pinch, a two-on-one resulted and their guy going to the net (Reynolds) was able to redirect the puck into our goal.”
A bigger concern for the Lakers then falling behind in the series is the condition of netminder Devin Tappenden, who has given up eight goals the past two games after picking up the shutout in Game 1.
Tappeden suffered an upper-body injury near the end of the first overtime which may still have been affecting him when he gave up the game-winner.
Strachan said the Markham native will be re-evaluated today, but his status for tonight’s contest is unclear.
If he can’t go, the Lakers still have SIJHL top goaltender finalist Jordan Cartney to pick up the slack.
However, Cartney has only played once in nine playoff games this postseason in what was his only start since Feb. 28.
After a scoreless first period, the Rangers opened the scoring on Jay Routheau’s tallly at 3:31 of the second.
The Lakers struck back 53 seconds later when Patrick Sofer set up Bryce Lipinski for his third of the playoffs.
At 7:27, it was the “DLM” Line’s turn, as Lucas DeBenedet and Lyndon Lipinski combined to set up Mason Meyer for his second of the postseason.
The third period was run-and-gun hockey at its finest, starting with Matt O’Dea’s equalizer at the 41-second mark.
Matt Audet then gave the home side the lead at 5:14.
But the Lakers tied it on Tanner Fricke’s first of the playoffs, a man-advantage marker assisted by Kyle and Bryce Lipinski at 10:20.
It was the first power-play goal of the series for Fort Frances, who finished the night 1-for-4 and is only 1-for-13 through three games.
Trevor Hoth, who set up Reynolds for the game-winner and had a game-high three points, made it 4-3 for Minnesota at 12:58.
But, with Tappenden on the bench for an extra attacker, the “KAN” Line came through yet again, as Brent Aiken sent the game into overtime with 22 seconds remaining in regulation time with linemates Kevin Kurm and Miles Nolan earning assists on the play.
“I’m very proud we didn’t quit and gave ourselves a chance to win,” praised Strachan.
“I thought we outplayed them in the third. The two differences were their goalie made saves and we had three glaring turnovers that hurt us because we made soft plays.”
Alex Reichle earned the win in goal, while Tappenden took the loss.
Shots on goal were unavailable by press time.
The defeat meant the Lakers have lost back-to-back games for only the second time this season, the last time being on Jan. 11 and 14 against the Wisconsin Wilderness and Thunder Bay North Stars.
Fort Frances hasn’t lost three in a row all season, which bodes well for them to tie the series back up tonight.
But Strachan was clear on what needs to be done if that is to happen.
“We need to put tonight in the past and start playing Laker hockey,” he declared.
“That means getting back to working hard, playing our systems and gameplan and being the team we are capable of being,” he added.
“What we need to realize is this is the playoffs and a championship round and it’s going to take more than we have given to get the job done.
“We need to rise to the occasion, start paying the price, adhering to our game plan and doing whatever it takes to have success. We need every player to get on board,” he concluded.
Game 5 in the series goes on Saturday at the Ice for Kids Arena at 7:30 p.m.