Wilderness even final with Lakers

Lucas Punkari

In a stark contrast from the first game of the SIJHL final, the Wisconsin Wilderness prevailed in a wild overtime affair last night, topping the Fort Frances Lakers 6-5 in Spooner to even the best-of-seven showdown at 1-1.
Andrew Anderson beat Lakers’ goalie Tyler Ampe at the 4:18 mark of the extra frame, his second goal of the game, to give his team the dramatic win.
The teams traded goals halfway through the opening period, with Wisconsin’s Shane Topf and Jordan Christianson of the Lakers hitting the twine during a 50-second sequence.
But the Wilderness’ potent offence cranked into high gear a few minutes later as Anderson and Jeremy Johnson scored in a two-minute span to give Wisconsin a 3-1 lead at intermission.
The Lakers stormed back with a pair of goals in a 15-second span of the second as Jordan Larson and Jaret LeClair solved SIJHL goalie-of-the-year Tanner Milliron.
Anthony Calabrese put the Wilderness back in front a few minutes later, with teammate Wilson Housley scoring on a power play shortly afterwards that restored the home team’s two-goal advantage.
But Merritt Rysavy scored to pull the Lakers back within one, then Henry Gutierrez tied the game once again early in the third to set the stage for the dramatic overtime finish.
No player had more than one point for the Lakers, with Ryan Wildman, Adam Wensley, Davis Smith, and Jon Carlson all collecting assists to join the goal-scorers on the stat sheet.
Anderson and Topf led Wisconsin on offence with three points each, with blueliners Lucas Hendrickson and Patrick Hurley adding two assists to the cause.
Both goalies were tested often throughout the game, with Milliron making 43 saves to earn the victory while Ampe turned aside 48 shots in a losing effort.
The series now shifts to the Ice For Kids Arena here for the next two games tomorrow and Thursday (April 4-5), with the puck dropping at 7:30 p.m. both nights.
Game 5 will go Saturday at 7 p.m. back in Spooner.
Game 6, if necessary, will take place here next Monday (April 9) at 7:30 p.m.
Should a seventh and deciding game be needed, it is scheduled for Wednesday, April 11 at 7 p.m. in Spooner.
In addition to hoisting the Bill Salonen Cup, both teams are gunning for a spot in the Dudley Hewitt Cup, which will be held April 17-21 at the Fort William Gardens in Thunder Bay.