Lakers rout Miners
Miles Nolan remained on fire while the English River Miners’ frustration boiled over in a third-period explosion.
Nolan netted four goals last night in Ear Falls to pace the Fort Frances Lakers to a 7-2 victory in Game 3 of their best-of-seven SIJHL semi-final series.
“[Nolan] definitely has the hot hand and again led us with a big game,” Lakers’ head coach and general manager Wayne Strachan said about the Geraldton product, who now has seven goals in five games this post-season.
He currently leads the team in playoff scoring with nine points.
“To me, it’s just simple,” added Strachan, whose squad went 3-for-7 on the power play and led 5-0 at one point, outshooting the Miners 35-18.
“He is coming prepared, working hard, keeping things simple, and finding the right place around the net,” Strachan said.
“Some players find their way and step up in big ways when the going gets tough.”
But what looks like a done deal for the Lakers won’t be without intrigue tonight—depending on how they handle themselves against a Miners’ team with nothing to lose and who may want to take some Fort players down with them.
That appeared to be the case last night, when things got out of control for much of the second half of the third period.
Riley Daly and the Miners’ Vincent Currao got 10-minute misconducts at 9:40, followed six seconds later by Ryan McQueen dropping the gloves with John Morales.
Then, at 10:01, Kellen McBlain ran over a Laker from behind to set off a chain reaction which somehow most of the visitors managed to avoid.
“Our guys came in to show support for what happened and pushing and shoving started, which turned into them taking it too far,” steamed Strachan.
“In my opinion, there was no need for what happened.
“We had four guys with gloves on and some of them getting double-teamed,” noted Strachan.
“To me, it wasn’t needed and we are happy our guys remained disciplined.”
When it was over, McBlain, Will Wickersham, Chris Hrabec, Taylor Bargar, and goalie P.D. Melgoza all were ejected for English River.
Tanner Fricke was the only Laker to meet the same fate.
Because any ejections inside the last 10 minutes of the third period carry an automatic one-game suspension, SIJHL Commissioner Ron Whitehead confirmed this morning that Fricke and the quintet of Miners will be watching from the stands tonight.
Strachan hopes what should be a short bench for the Miners will deter any repeats of last night’s antics.
“I guess you could say it’s in the back of our mind, but you hope they have enough class and their coach has enough control and preaches discipline to his team,” he remarked.
“We have one mission—to win the game and end the series,” he stressed.
Bryce Lipinski, Donovan Cousineau, and Cody Wickstrom also scored for the Lakers.
Wickersham and Ian Bablitz replied for English River.
Should the Miners pull out a win tonight, Game 5 is set for Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at the ’52 Canadians Arena here.