A seven-goal outburst in the third period helped the Fort Frances Atom ‘AA’ Canadians to storm all the way back and claim the gold medal with an 11-5 win over the Dryden Paper Kings in the final of their annual home tournament Sunday afternoon at “The Duke” (Couchiching Arena).
Ziigwan Smith opened the scoring for the Canadians just a few minutes into the first period when he buried a cross-ice pass past Paper Kings’ goalie Zakhar Pyykkonen.
Anthony Yerxa then rushed the puck down the ice shortly afterwards on a man advantage and buried the rebound of his own shot to double the lead.
The Paper Kings trimmed it to 2-1 when they caught the hosts on an odd-man rush before snapping it past Canadians’ goalie Eleazar Andrusco.
But Yerxa tallied again later in the frame when his shot from far out eluded Pyykkonen over his glove hand to put the hosts up 3-1 after 15 minutes.
After the Canadians went up 4-1 in the early stages of the second, Dryden made it a two-goal game once again after the Canadians had turned it over at the Paper Kings’ blueline.
After a parade to the penalty box early in the third, the Paper Kings made the Canadians pay as they tallied a pair of power-play markers to knot it at 4-4.
The visitors then found the loose puck in a crowd of bodies before eluding Andrusco to take their first lead of the game.
That success was short-lived, however, as the Canadians buried three goals within a matter of minutes to go ahead 7-5 and force Dryden to take a time-out.
But the stoppage did little to stop the Canadians’ momentum as they poured it on with another tally shortly afterwards, then connected three more times to cap the scoring.
Fort Frances had opened tourney play Friday night with a 8-0 rout of the Kenora Thistles.
Then after dumping the Paper Kings by a 10-1 margin Saturday morning, they finished preliminary play that afternoon with a 8-5 win over the Thunder Bay Norwest Stars.
Fort Frances then routed the Thistles 10-0 in Sunday morning’s semi-finals to book their spot in championship game that afternoon against Dryden.
The Paper Kings, meanwhile, had opened tourney play Friday night with a 8-5 win over the Stars.
Then they were routed by the Canadians on Saturday morning but rebounded in a big way that night with a 5-3 win over the Thistles.
Dryden defeated the Stars by a narrow 9-7 margin to book their shot in the final against the Canadians.
The Fort Frances Girls’/Women’s Hockey Association will host both its Novice and Atom tournaments this weekend at the Memorial Sports Centre and “The Duke.”