There will be no extended post-season run for the Fort Frances Lakers this year.
Evan Pakkala scored three times, including the game-winner in the second period, as the Dryden GM Ice Dogs rolled to a 6-2 win over the Lakers in Game 3 of their best-of-five quarter-final playoff series Friday night at the Ice For Kids Arena.
Fourth-place Dryden swept the series 3-0 and now advance to the best-of-seven semi-finals against the top-ranked Thunder Bay North Stars.
The second-place Red Lake Miners will battle the third-place Thief River Falls Norskies in the other semi-final series after the Norskies swept the last-place Minnesota Iron Rangers in that quarter-final over the weekend.
Friday’s game here saw the Ice Dogs open the scoring just over three minutes into the first period when Eric Stout finished off a short-handed chance with Trey Palermo.
The fifth-place Lakers came back to tie it a couple shifts later when Nick Hahkala was set up in the slot, where he wired the equalizer past Ice Dogs’ goalie Jacob Anthony for his first SIJHL playoff goal.
Pakkala then notched his first of the night late in the period when he knocked one in from close range to make it 2-1 for the visitors.
He then added the eventual winner with the lone goal of the middle frame as he neatly re-directed a feed in front that eluded Lakers’ goalie Jacob Gnidziejko at 6:46.
Braden Shea banged in the rebound of a Ryan Brandt point shot at 6:14 of the third before Noah Loveday got that back for the home squad a minute-and-a-half later to trim it to 4-2.
But Cameron Coutre added some insurance for Dryden later in the frame before Pakkala finished off his hat trick–and the series–with a late empty-netter to round out the scoring.
Tyler Browning and Malcolm Huemmert had two assists apiece to aid the Ice Dogs’ offence, who will continue on to what they hope will be their third-straight Bill Salonen Cup title.
Anthony made 25 saves to record the win.
Gnidziejko, meanwhile, was solid once again in the season-ending defeat for the Lakers as he wrapped up his season with a .922 playoff save percentage after finishing with 47 stops.