HOYT LAKES, Minn. – Cameron Jackson’s bank-in goal 4:30 into overtime lifted the Fort Frances Lakers to a dramatic 4-3 victory over the Minnesota Iron Rangers Monday in game 6 of the Superior International Junior Hockey League Bill Salonen Cup final at a jam-packed Hoyt Lakes Arena.
With the Lakers’ triumph the best-of-seven series is now tied at three wins apiece with game 7 set for Wednesday at Ice for Kids Arena in Fort Frances starting at 7:30 p.m.
Minnesota opened the scoring late in the opening period as Max Seiter chipped in a rebound off an Eric Madison blast from the right side past Lakers’ starter Jordan Cartney at 18:52.
The score stayed that way until the latter stages of the middle stanza when Fort Frances connected for a pair of tallies under two minutes apart to grab a 2-1 lead after two periods of play.
Lucas Debenedet intercepted a clearing attempt just inside the Iron Rangers and skillfully darted in and fed cross-ice pass to Mason Meyer who one-timed a shot past Alex Reichle in the Minnesota net at 17:56 for the tying goal.
The go ahead marker then came with 8.6 seconds left in the stanza during a Fort Frances power play as Lyndon Lipinski knocked in a loose puck from the top of the crease following a goal-mouth scramble.
After Debenedet put the visitors up 3-1 at 11:25 courtesy of a man advantage marker, Minnesota stormed back to tie it with markers from Jonathon Losurdo and Trevor Hoth a minute and a half apart to force OT.
Near the midway point of the first overtime a pinching Jackson banked his shot towards the net off an Iron Rangers’ defender and in to give Fort Frances the victory and force game 7 Wednesday.
Debenedet, the SIJHL’s leading point producer during the regular season, finished the night playing a part in all four Lakers’ markers with his goal along with a trio of assists.
Fort Frances held the shots on goal edge in the contest by a 36-34 margin with Cartney picking up the win and Reichle the OT defeat.
The SIJHL’s Bill Salonen Cup champion will advance to represent the league at the Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canada Jr. A championship April 29 through May 3 in Wellington, Ont.
They will join the host Wellington Dukes of the Ontario Junior Hockey League along with the OJHL Buckland Cup champion Toronto Lakeshore Patriots at the five-day event along with the yet to be determined winner of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League.
The Kirkland Lake Gold Miners currently lead the NOJHL final vs. the Soo Thunderbirds 3-2 in their best-of-seven series, which resumes Tuesday evening in Kirkland Lake.
SIJHL finals for the Bill Salonen Cup
No. 1 Fort Frances Lakers vs. No. 3 Minnesota Iron Rangers
Best-of-seven series tied 3-3
Game 1: Fort Frances 1 Minnesota 0 (2 OT)
Game 2: Minnesota 3 Fort Frances 2
Game 3: Minnesota 5 Fort Frances 4 (2 OT)
Game 4: Minnesota 3 Fort Frances Lakers 0
Game 5: Fort Frances 2 Minnesota 0
Game 6: Fort Frances 4 Minnesota 3 (OT)
Game 7: Wednesday, April 23 @ Fort Frances 7:30 p.m. (Ice for Kids Arena)