Sabres clinch third place

Mitch Calvert

Bring on the Flyers.
The Fort Frances Jr. Sabres clinched third place—and a first-round playoff date with the last-place Sioux Lookout Flyers—after escaping with a 5-4 win over the visiting Schreiber Diesels last night.
The Sabres (29-17-3) are six points up on the Diesels (26-19-3) heading into tonight’s game against Schreiber, which also is the regular-season finale for the black-and-red.
The Diesels then wrap up their regular-season schedule tomorrow night in Dryden before hosting the fifth-place Ice Dogs in the other quarter-final series.
The SIJHL’s top two teams—the Fort William North Stars and Thunder Bay Bearcats—have first-round byes.
The home side led 2-0 after one period on goals by Brendan Baumgartner and Dan Usiski, but the Diesels roared back with three unanswered tallies in the middle frame by Phil Gauvin, Colin Wise, and JP Boucha.
But the Sabres clearly woke up during the intermission because Kenny Carpenter tied the score just 30 seconds into the third when he sniped a point shot past Josh Baker while on the power play.
The Diesels refused to give in, however, and again reclaimed the lead when Dmitri Panagiotou scooped up a rebound alone in front and roofed it over Ryan Faragher.
The seesaw battle continued as the Sabres took advantage of some untimely Diesels’ penalties, converting on a 5-on-3 opportunity when Chris Sinclair tapped one into an empty net on the tail end of a nifty passing play between Mitch Cain and Baumgartner.
The Diesels again were whistled for a minor penalty just five minutes later—and Carpenter made them pay for his second goal of the night and sixth on the season.
The B.C. native pinched in from the point to keep the puck in, then finished off a nice give-and-go play between him and Graham Dyck below the hash marks.
Penalties started to go in the Diesels’ favour in the final five minutes, and they held one last chance to tie on a 5-on-3 power play for over a minute with 3:09 left.
But the Sabres didn’t allow them to set up or get any sustained pressure around Faragher’s net.
In related news, the Bearcats exacted some revenge on the North Stars with a 6-3 win last night.
Fort Frances native Brian White recorded five assists while Tyler Miller, his former Muskie linemate, notched two goals and an assist.