Lakers urging fans to ‘get loud’
Wayne Strachan and the Fort Frances Lakers shared the theme of new life on Monday—and they weren’t even in the same building.
While the Lakers’ head coach and general manager stayed behind in Fort Frances to witness the birth of his new son just minutes after the scheduled start of the game, his hockey team completed its Easter resurrection with a 4-3 overtime win against the host Minnesota Iron Rangers in Game 6 of the SIJHL final.
Be advised, Lakers’ fans—Lyndon Lipinski wants noise.
“Tell them to get loud and root us on,” instructed the Lakers’ forward in the spirit of the “Winfield Wants Noise” slogan adopted during the Toronto Blue Jays’ 1992 World Series run.
“They have got to be our seventh player on the ice,” Lipinski stressed.
“It’s going to be one hell of a ride.”
Lipinski provided the screen that made Iron Rangers’ goalie Alex Reichle unable to see Cam Jackson’s shot from a bizarre angle, which bounced into the air, touched the back of Reichle’s jersey and then his goalstick, before rolling across the goal line for the game-winner at 4:50 of overtime Monday night.
It wasn’t technically the Lakers’ third power-play goal of the night. But with T.J. Samec still trying to get into the play after finishing his tripping penalty five seconds earlier, it may as well have been.
“I’m usually up top but because we had the power play, I chased the puck into the corner and then turned to face the centre of the ice,” recounted an ecstatic Jackson, who also scored the game-winner in Saturday night’s 2-0 victory here in Game 5.
“I saw Lyndon in front with his stick on the ice and I tried to laser the pass in there,” he noted.
“I don’t know how it went in,” Jackson admitted. “I think my feet were behind the goal line when I shot it.
“But we worked so hard for this tonight. We deserved the win,” he added.
The game was a microcosm of the series as the two teams have matched each other step for step through six games.
Having the series go the distance seemed to have been inevitable as Fort Frances tries to win its first SIJHL title and avoid being the league runner-up three-straight years.
“Game 7, that’s what it’s all about,” said Jackson.
“We knew we could do it,” he added. “Now it’s our chance to prove it.”
Max Seiter had the home crowd thinking championship when the Iron Rangers’ forward pumped home a rebound at 18:52 of the first period after Eric Madison’s original shot ricocheted off Lakers’ goalie Jordan Cartney’s shoulder and right to Seiter.
The smattering of Lakers’ fans in the crowd, including Muskie girls’ hockey team members Hailey Clendenning, Claire Sandelovich, and Amber Jourdain, finally got their chance to cheer late in the second period.
After Kyle Lipinski expertly broke up a 2-on-1, the blueliner carried the puck all the way to the other end and got a shot off.
The Iron Rangers’ subsequent attempt to clear the zone up the middle was picked off by Lucas DeBenedet, who dashed in before setting up Mason Meyer at the side of the net for the equalizer at 17:56.
The “DLM Line” of DeBenedet, Meyer, and Lyndon Lipinski, which had been relatively inconspicuous throughout the series (five total points in five games), was just getting warmed up en route to a combined nine-point night.
With Jay Routheau off for slashing, DeBenedet and Meyer boxed in an Iron Rangers’ defender behind his net and stole the puck before giving it to Lyndon Lipinski, who willed the puck past Reichle with 8.6 seconds on the clock for a 2-1 lead.
The Lakers, who seemed to get stronger throughout the third, then made it 3-1 at 11:03 on a designed play for their second man-advantage marker of the game after getting only two power-play goals in 23 chances going into Game 6.
DeBenedet, who was in on every goal Monday night, won the draw just outside the Minnesota blueline and pushed it to Meyer, who waited for Lyndon Lipinski and DeBenedet to shake free up ahead.
A sharp pass set up a 2-on-1, with DeBenedet burying Lipinski’s feed behind Reichle.
Jonathon Losurdo fuelled the Iron Ranger fans’ fires with a one-timer past Cartney at 14:26.
That was just the appetizer ahead of Trevor Hoth’s power-play bullet, with Jackson in the box, that beat Cartney stick-side at 15:42.
“It was a good shot but I should have had it,” said Cartney, who deflected praise despite winning consecutive starts after replacing Devin Tappenden in goal following Game 4.
“The top line had a fire under their butts,” Cartney noted. “They really stepped up tonight.
“It’s going to be unreal [tonight],” he added. “We’ve just got to give it our all and go for it.”
Assistant general manager and coach Grant Perreault, who filled in for Strachan, couldn’t have been more proud of his troops.
“The team held their composure and stuck to the game plan,” he lauded.
“The boys on the bench stayed positive, and I knew they would get through the adversity and rise to the occasion.”
After splitting the first two games of the series at home, the Lakers were pushed to the brink after two-straight losses in Hoyt Lakes.
Jason Reynolds had the decisive goal 40 seconds into double overtime to give Minnesota a 5-4 win in Game 3 last Wednesday (April 16).
Routheau, Matt O’Dea, Matt Audet, and Hoth had the other goals while Reichle made 39 saves.
Bryce Lipinski, Meyer, Tanner Fricke and Brent Aiken (with 22 seconds left in the third to force overtime) had the Lakers’ markers.
Tappenden, who suffered an upper-body injury late in the first overtime but stayed in the game, had 33 saves in defeat.
Reichle then was outstanding in Game 4 with a 43-save performance as the Iron Rangers earned a 3-0 triumph.
Samec and Seth Chumley scored in the second against Tappenden while Madison tacked on an empty-netter with 34 seconds to go.
Cartney got the call for Game 5 here Saturday night and responded with a 24-save shutout to help the Lakers to a 2-0 win.
Jackson and Hunter Leishman supplied the offence in that one.