Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Lakers stay alive

In case anybody forgot what a terrific season Jordan Cartney had, he was happy to remind them Saturday night.
The Fort Frances Lakers were even happier.

Cartney was unbeatable in a 24-shot effort to backstop the Lakers to a 2-0 victory over the visiting Minnesota Iron Rangers in Game 5 of the SIJHL final that staved off elimination.
Devin Tappenden has received the bulk of the playing time since joining the Lakers in January, relegating Cartney to a back-up role despite the Calgary native leading the SIJHL in wins (24), GAA (2.48), and save percentage (.911) and earning a CCM Second All-Star Team nod.
But after a double-overtime shutout in Game 1, Tappenden lost three-straight starts, including Game 4’s 3-0 loss down in Hoyt Lakes on Thursday night—giving up 11 goals in the process.
Facing elimination, Lakers’ head coach and general manager Wayne Strachan decided to go with his gut and it paid off.
“It was a situation where we thought change might be good,” Strachan reasoned.
“It was a tough call and one I had to think about a great deal.”
“Jordan has been solid for us all year and one of the top goalies in the league,” he noted.
“He made his presence felt in the game.”
“He made the saves we needed, including two key ones to keep the game 2-0,” added Strachan.
“He stood up in a big way for us.”
Strachan confirmed Cartney will get the start again tonight in Game 6 in Hoyt Lakes, with the Lakers’ season on the line once again.
After a scoreless first period Saturday night, Cam Jackson put the Lakers up 1-0 during a man-advantage—pinching in to rocket a rebound over the glove of Iron Rangers’ goalie Alex Reichle at 9:22 of the second.
“It was big because it was on the power play,” said Strachan, whose squad is only 2-for-23 with the man advantage in the series after leading the league during the regular season with an efficiency rate north of 25 percent.
“It was something we needed to get going,” he stressed.
Patrick Sofer later intercepted a pass in the neutral zone and ripped a shot on goal that Reichle stopped.
But the rebound found the stick of Hunter Leishman, who pumped a snapshot past Reichle at 18:42 for a key insurance goal.
“Obviously it was huge for the team and our confidence to get that [two-goal] lead,” said Strachan, noting three of the five games in the series have been decided by one goal.
“Earlier in the first, [Leishman] had a similar opportunity that just hit the knob of Reichle’s stick.”
As for tonight’s Game 6, getting the first goal would be huge for the visiting Lakers. But Strachan isn’t resting all his hopes on that outcome.
“Keeping our emotions in check will be the biggest key,” he remarked.
“To get the lead and control will be our objective,” he said.
“But if it doesn’t happen, we will continue to work to get back in the game.
“We have come back in their arena before and will have to play a 60-minute game to have success,” Strachan stressed.
Reichle stopped all shots in Minnesota’s Game 4 victory at home on Thursday, with T.J. Samec, Seth Chumley, and Eric Madison (empty-netter) supplying the Iron Rangers’ offence.
Tappenden made 30 stops in defeat.
Should the Lakers win tonight, Game 7 will go back here Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena.

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