Lakers grab 2-0 series lead

Joey Payeur

All Christian Ripley was missing was his hair flowing in the breeze he created.
Ripley’s short-handed goal at 11:57 of the third was the game-winner as the Fort Frances Lakers rallied to beat the visiting English River Miners 4-2 last night to grab a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven semi-final series.
Emulating a young Guy Lafleur, the 20-year-old forward from Duluth raced full throttle down the right wing before veering to the middle against Miners’ defenceman Brody Jennings.
He then unleashed a blistering shot that found its way under the crossbar past Korlan Vader to give the home squad its first lead of the game.
“I saw a lane and when [Jennings] tried to hit me, I cut to the middle quickly and took a shot and hoped it would go in,” Ripley recounted.
The Miners, who lost all 14 games to the Lakers during the regular season, outshot the two-time defending SIJHL 49-38 and opened the scoring just 13 seconds in.
A Lakers’ defensive breakdown led to Alex Maticic finding himself alone in front of the net, where he got two cracks at the puck before putting it past Pierce Dushenko.
League MVP Dylan Robertson tied it at 5:17 of the second just after a Miners’ penalty expired—taking Nick Minerva’s pass in the left circle and slamming it past Vader.
But then with English River on a two-man advantage, Trevor Pereverzoff drilled a shot from the point that beat Dushenko to put the Miners back in front.
The Lakers came out flying in the third.
First, Andrew Willner’s forecheck caused a turnover that led to his centering pass to Robertson, who netted his second of the game only 18 seconds into the period.
After Ripley’s go-ahead marker, the Miners had several good chances to pull even but were turned aside each time by Dushenko.
Willner capped the scoring with an empty-netter in the final minute.
In the series opener here Friday night, Robertson and Dylan Kooner each registered hat tricks in a 7-4 victory for the Lakers.
Minerva had the other goal and added two assists.
Ripley, Davis Ross, and Roshen Jaswal each had two helpers while Dushenko made 23 saves to earn the win.
Konnar Dechaine had a pair for the Miners, with Pereverzoff and Ryker Moreau adding singles.
The series now shifts to the Cochenour Arena for Games 3 and 4 on Wednesday and Thursday night.
Game 5, if necessary, will go Saturday at 7:30 p.m. back at the Ice For Kids Arena.
In the other semi-final, the Dryden GM Ice Dogs won both games on home ice to lead the Thunder Bay North Stars 2-0
Games 3 and 4 in that series go Thursday and Friday night in Thunder Bay.