HOYT LAKES, Minn. – SPORTS – Minnesota Iron Rangers goaltender Alex Reichle stopped all 43 shots he faced to backstop his club to a 3-0 victory over the Fort Frances Lakers Thursday night in game 4 of the Superior International Junior Hockey League Bill Salonen Cup final at Hoyt Lakes Arena.
With the win Iron Rangers now lead the best-of-seven series 3-1 and will have a chance to capture their first championship in franchise history Saturday evening in game 5 at Ice for Kids Arena in Fort Frances at 7:30 p.m.
Neither side would connect in the opening period in a session that saw the Lakers outshoot the Iron Rangers 14-11.
T.J. Samec notched the eventual game-winner at 7:11 of the middle stanza as he buried the feed from A.J. Rupert to put the home side on the board.
Just over five minutes later Minnesota extended their lead as Seth Chumley beat Fort Frances starter Devin Tappenden to make it a 2-0 game after 40 minutes.
The Lakers came out hard in the final frame, firing 21 pucks on the Iron Rangers net, but could not solve Reichle on this night who kept the opposing shooters at bay all evening.
Eric Madison then iced it in the final minute with an empty netter to put Minnesota in command of the series and a win away from claiming the Bill Salonen Cup.
Tappenden had 30 stops in a losing cause for the Lakers.
The SIJHL 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 title holders from the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League and the Ontario Junior Hockey League along with the host Wellington Dukes (OJHL) at the five-day event.
The Kirkland Lake Gold Miners currently lead the NOJHL final vs. the Soo Thunderbirds 2-1 in their best-of-seven series following a 4-3 triumph in overtime Thursday.
Meanwhile the Toronto Lakeshore Patriots are up 3-1 on the Aurora Tigers in the OJHL championship with game 5 in that set going Friday.
SIJHL finals for the Bill Salonen Cup
No. 1 Fort Frances Lakers vs. No. 3 Minnesota Iron Rangers
Iron Rangers lead best-of-seven series 3-1
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: Saturday, April 19 @ Fort Frances 7:30 p.m. (Ice for Kids)
Game 6*: Monday, April 21 @ Minnesota 7 p.m. (Hoyt Lakes)
Game 7*: Wednesday, April 23 @ Fort Frances 7:30 p.m. (Ice for Kids)