Dudley Hewitt Semi-Finals Set for Friday Night
FORT FRANCES, Ont. – SPORTS – Lucas Debenedet tallied twice to help lead the Fort Frances Lakers to a 5-3 victory over the Dryden GM Ice Dogs in the round robin finale at the Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canada Jr. A Championship at Ice for Kids Arena in Fort Frances.
With the win, the Lakers advance to the DHC semifinal Friday evening vs. the Toronto Patriots (OJHL) at 7:30 p.m. Central/8:30 p.m. Eastern back at Ice for Kids.
An early turnover allowed Dryden to grab the lead 1:40 into the contest with Dylan Cusmano wiring one from the left side beating Fort Frances starter Nathan Park.
Using the initial man advantage opportunity of the night, Fort Frances drew level at 4:18 as DeBenedet one-timed a shot from the high slot off a Wyatt Cota feed on the Lakers first shot of the game.
The second attempt to hit the target by the SIJHL Bill Salonen Cup champion Lakers also found the back of the net as Robbie Bonthron hammered one from the high slot that beat Dryden’s Tate Sproxton midway through the frame.
Fort Frances kept coming and added another as Bryson Jasper banged in a rebound off a Mason Meyer shot at 14:38.
A costly collision in the latter stages of the stanza saw SIJHL playoff MVP Park injured and replaced by back-up Pierce Dushenko with two and half minutes remaining.
Dryden pulled to within one at 17:02 of the second as Derek McPhail chopped one through the legs of Dushenko making it 3-2.
The GM Ice Dogs had a great chance to tie it in the final seconds of the session, but Dushenko stymied Jonathon Philley on a shorthanded breakaway.
Capitalizing on a two-man advantage early in the third, DeBenedet knocked in his second of the night to make it 4-2.
Shorthanded, Fort Frances added another as Cota broke in alone and calmly tucked the puck between Sproxton’s legs, much to the delight of the 1,245 fans in attendance.
Dryden got one back with 66 seconds to go off the stick of Cole Golka in what turned out to be the final marker of the evening.
Dushenko finished the night with 17 stops and picked up the decision in relief.
Sproxton faced 30 shots in the season-ending defeat for Dryden.
Player of the game laurels went to the Lakers’ DeBenedet and Jonathon Philley of the GM Ice Dogs.
Friday’s semifinal winner will meet the Soo Thunderbirds (NOJHL) in the title game Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Central/8:30 p.m. Eastern.
Live scoring and tournament information can be found on the Dudley-Hewitt Cup website at www.centralcanadianchampionship.com.