In their first game in over two weeks, the Superior International Junior Hockey League Lakers hit the ice at the Ice for Kids Arena in Fort Frances, Ontario in game one of the SIJHL semi – final series on March 27th against the Thunder Bay North Stars. The North Stars defeated the English River Miners to two straight quarter – final games to advance to face Fort Frances in the semi – finals.
On a North Stars power play at 9:23 of the first period, Thunder Bay’s Daniel McKitrick finds the back of Laker goaltender Nathan Park to give the visitors a 1 – 0 lead with a pass from Bradley Belisle. At 7:02 of the second period on a power play, Cody Antonini set up Fort Frances Dylan Kooner for his first of the post – season to even the game 1 – 1 for the Lakers. Giving the hosts a 2 – 1 lead at 11:21 of the second was Laker Cody Chorney with his first of the 2015 SIJHL playoffs. Wyatt Cota and Bryson Jasper add the helpers on Chorney’s goal.
At 14:49 of the second period, Marco Romano sinks his first goal of the playoffs to give the Lakers a 3 – 1 lead with a pass from forward Bowen Alcock. Bringing the game within one was McKitrick of the North Stars at 16:47 of the second with assists from Kenny Turner and Avery Siau. Nick Minerva increased Fort Frances lead to 4 – 2 with 2:01 left in the second period on an unassisted goal for the Lakers.
1:23 into the final period, Lucas DeBenedet sets up veteran Laker Mason Meyer for his first of the playoffs to give Fort Frances a 5 – 2 lead. At 12:30 of the third, Minerva sinks his second of the game to give the Lakers a 1 – 0 semi – final series and a 6 – 2 win over the North Stars on an unassisted goal.
“Slow start, a little rusty from the lay off. In the second started to get our game going and then once we scored, started to push the pace and capitalize. In the third to not get myself in trouble I will just say we did what we needed to preserve the win, said Fort Frances coach Wayne Strachan.”
The Lakers and the North Stars will hit the ice on March 28th at 7:30 (CST) in game two of the SIJHL semi – final. In the other SIHL semi – final, the Minnesota Iron Rangers versus the Dryden Ice Dogs, the Ice Dogs take a 1 – 0 series lead over the Iron Rangers with a 4 – 1 win on March 27th.