T’hawks axe Lumberjacks in sweep

Joey Payeur

Senior men’s hockey is no college frat party.
The Dakota College of Bottineau (N.D.) Lumberjacks found that out the hard way last weekend as they were victimized twice by the Fort Frances Thunderhawks in exhibition action at the ’52 Canadians Arena.
The T’hawks winged their way to a 7-2 victory Sunday afternoon after winning a 6-5 overtime thriller the previous evening.
Fort Frances took a while to get warmed up Sunday, with Seth Cory making it 1-0 at 11:58 of the first for the Lumberjacks—the reigning and four-time defending National Junior College Athletic Association national men’s hockey champions.
But the T’hawks came home to roost in the second. Troy Iujow knotted the game at 4:13 before Ian Lockman gave Fort Frances the lead at 6:02.
Curtis Martin drew Dakota College even at 14:36 of the frame to set up what should have been another exciting third period between the two clubs.
The only excitement of the third, though, was in the stands as the Thunderhawks’ supporters watched their team riddle Lumberjacks’ goalie Troy Chandler for five goals in the final stanza.
Josh Meyers unleashed the opening salvo at 1:05 to make it 3-2 for Fort Frances. Then Ross Johnson and Germaine Atatise found the back of the net 30 seconds apart at 8:29 and 8:59, respectively, to pad the cushion.
Kevin Webb increased the lead to 6-2 at 17:19 before Iujow completed the cakewalk with his second of the game at 18:56.
Chris Medicine earned the win between the pipes while Chandler suffered his second defeat in as many days for Dakota College.
Sunday’s wipeout was in stark contrast to the Saturday night barnburner between the two squads, which ended in shocking fashion.
Johnson got things rolling quickly with his goal at the 46-second mark while A.J. Tucker began his march to a hat trick at 17:44.
Those goals were sandwiched around tallies by Donnie Iverson at 11:50 and Wade Haight (at 13:32) to make it 2-2 after 20 minutes.
Jake Plutowski put Dakota College up 3-2 at 3:46 of the second, but the Thunderhawks regained the lead on goals by Derek Hansberry (at 13:24) and Roger Morrison (at 17:44).
Plutowski continued his one-man assault in the third, squaring the contest at 9:13 and then putting the Lumberjacks in control again with his hat-trick marker at 14:12.
With the clock winding down and goalie Jason Flatt on the bench for an extra skater, Tucker put new wind beneath the Thunderhawks’ wings by beating Chandler for the tying goal with just 34 seconds to go.
If that deflated Dakota College, the Lumberjacks completely collapsed right off the opening face-off of overtime. Tucker got loose for a shot that fooled Chandler only five seconds into the extra session to send jubilation throughout the arena.
Fort Frances tentatively is scheduled to return to action here next Tuesday (Feb. 1) against the Kenora Thistles, although that may be moved to a weekend date to allow more players from both sides to be available.
The Thunderhawks and Thistles both will participate in the Allan Cup national senior men’s hockey championship from April 11-16 in Kenora.
The Thistles are in as the host team while the T’hawks automatically gained the Northwestern Ontario berth after the Thunder Bay Twins declined to try and qualify for it.

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