Fort Frances Three Years Running as Champs
DRYDEN, Ont. – The Fort Frances Lakers are Superior International Junior League Bill Salonen Cup champions for a third consecutive year.
An A.J. Rupert power play goal with 13:47 remaining was the eventual game-winner as Fort Frances edged the Dryden GM Ice Dogs 4-2 Saturday in Game 6 of the SIJHL finals with the Lakers capturing the best-of-seven series in six hard-fought games.
Fort Frances will now move on to represent the SIJHL at the Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canada Jr. A championship, May 3-7 in Kirkland Lake, Ont.
Knowing their season was on the line, Dryden came out flying and capitalized quickly as Matt Houston fired one from the high slot that beat Fort Frances starter Pierce Dushenko just 12 seconds into the contest.
The Lakers came right back and drew level with Ryley Bosman carrying the puck through the GM Ice Dogs zone before banking one in from a sharp angle that eluded Troy Pierce in the Dryden net.
Fort Frances took the lead 6:16 into the second stanza when Roshen Jaswal corraled the rebound of his own point shot and cut around a Dryden forward and snapped one past Pierce from the high slot.
The Lakers had a glorious chance to go up by two later in the period as SIJHL MVP Dylan Robertson was hauled down on a breakaway and was awarded a penalty shot, but his attempt was stymied by the GM Ice Dogs goalkeeper.
Special teams allowed the visitors to get that all-important two-goal lead with 13:47 remaining as Rupert lifted the decider that found its way to the back of the net during a Fort Frances power play.
Refusing to go down without battling to the end, Dryden pulled to within one with 4:28 to go as Nic Noseworthy redirected a Kyle Pouncy point shot that eluded Dushenko.
Heading into the late stages, the GM Ice Dogs pulled Pierce in favour of an extra attacker, but Christian Ripley fired his clearing attempt the length of the ice into the open net to clinch the series.
Robertson dished out two assists in the triumph for the winners as he finished the playoffs with a league-best 17 points overall in 10 games played.
Shots on goal in the contest favoured Fort Frances 30-28 with Dushenko picking up the win and Pierce the setback.
Joining the Lakers at the Dudley-Hewitt Cup will be the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League champion Soo Thunderbirds, the Trenton Golden Hawks, title holders of the Ontario Junior Hockey League as well as the event host Kirkland Lake Gold Miners of the NOJHL.
SIJHL Bill Salonen Cup (Series D)
No. 1 Fort Frances Lakers vs. No. 2 Dryden GM Ice Dogs
Fort Frances wins best-of-seven series 4-2
Game 1: Dryden 6 Fort Frances 2
Game 2: Fort Frances 2 Dryden 1
Game 3: Dryden 4 Fort Frances 1
Game 4: Fort Frances 2 Dryden 0
Game 5: Fort Frances 6 Dryden 5 (OT)
Game 6: Fort Frances 4 Dryden 2