By Mike Ebbeling
Dryden, ON – No shortage of offence for the Dryden GM Ice Dogs to start the SIJHL Playoffs. The Ice Dogs scored five in the first and three more in the third en route to a 9-3 rout over Fort Frances at the Memorial Arena Saturday night. It was a crazy start to game number two with seven total goals.
The Fort Frances Lakers stunned the hometown crowd of 537 as Jack Wood of Rainy River picked up the loose puck and buried it past the blocker of Eric Clark on the very first shot of the game for the Lakers only 2:44 into the game. That would be the first lead of the playoffs for the Lakers. That sparked an immediate response from the Ice Dogs as Jack Cullen at 5:57 slid a point shot off a Fort Frances player right to a wide-open Ty Earl who made no mistake making it a 1-1 game. About a minute and a half later Derek Koivisto capitalized on another Ice Dogs bounce from a James Hooton shot and the veteran scored to make it a 2-1 contest. The 20-year-old was playing in his second straight game with the absence of Bryce Benefield after only suiting up for 32 in the regular season. The Lakers power-play once again jumped on their first opportunity of the game as 8 seconds into a Max Rath hit to the head penalty, Darnell Kempf snuck in from the point unimpeded and placed a perfect shot under the crossbar on only the second shot of the game. The play all started with a clean faceoff win by Ryker Watt. The Ice Dogs offence then erupted as they would proceed to score 3 goals in a span of 1:33. The outburst started with a shorthanded goal at 14:19 as McLaren Paulson came down the near wing on a partial breakaway and scored blocker side on Brenden Stroble for his second goal of the postseason. That was the 17th shorthanded goal by the Ice Dogs this season and the 18th allowed by the Lakers. After that Landon Stromme would take over scoring two quick goals. The first came on a rare rebound allowed by Stroble off a Brady Frattinger shot and the second came on a turnaround shot off another fortuitous Dryden GM Ice Dog bounce following some good work in tight by Max Roby and Ryland Maier. That would make it 5-2 going into the break with the Ice Dogs carrying a 15-10 edge in shots.
Things calmed down in the second with both teams tightening up on defence. Fort Frances would eventually break the deadlock at 9:17 as Jack Wood scored his second of the game and third of the playoffs on the tail end of a 4-3 powerplay after finishing off a Clark Scadden play with 3 seconds left in the man advantage. Dryden GM would respond just over 2 minutes later as Ryland Maier was left alone at the side of the net after Garrett Hrechka clogged up the middle of the ice and he found the back of the net to make it 6-3. The play was kept a live with a nice hold at the blueline by Elijah Pool. Shots in the second frame were 17-14 in favour of the Ice Dogs.
A more experienced Ice Dogs team took over the third as they shut down the Fort Frances attack with a smothering defence, aggressive play and relentless pressure taking advantage of a tired and worn-out Lakers team. Dryden GM would also capitalize on mistakes by Stroble. It started with Derek Koivisto scoring his second of the game off a rebound, continued with Max Roby who intercepted a Stroble pass behind the net, tucking it home into an empty net and ended with Ty Earl finishing a rebound as the Ice Dogs cruised to a 9-3 victory. Third period shots ended up being 36-8 in favour of Dryden GM and 68-32 in total.
The bright spot in the two games for the 7th ranked Lakers has been their powerplay production. Four of the seven goals have been with the man advantage against the number one ranked penalty kill in the regular season. They have also shut down the best powerplay in the league not allowing a goal on five Dryden GM opportunities. The Ice Dogs now own a 2-0 series lead and the Best-of-7 series shifts to Fort Frances for games on Monday and Tuesday (March 27 and 28. 8:15 CST both games)
- Landon Stromme DRY (2 goals)
- Ty Earl DRY (2 goals, 1 assist)
- Derek Koivisto (2 goals)
(PHOTO CREDIT: Kerri-Ann Kanceruk)