Kam River Fighting Walleye vs Red Lake Miners Series Preview

By Gary Moskalyk

Season Series:

Sep. 22 RLM 6 at KRW 3

Sep. 23 RLM 3 at KRW 4

Jan. 19 KRW 8 at RLM 4

Jan. 20 KRW 1 at RLM 2

Jan. 21 KRW 3 at RLM 6

Mar. 15 RLM 2 at KRW 5

Mar. 16 RLM 3 at KRW 5

RLM 3-4-0 GF 26 GA 29, KRW GF 29 GA 26

On paper, this series should be close. Red Lake opened the season with a win at Norwest and a game two loss, and Kam River ended the regular season with a pair of wins at the Home of the Staal boys. The Walleye held a slight edge in the season series. Kam River is on a 19-game winning streak spanning the regular season and playoffs.

Kam River’s Jett Mintenko notched 11 points against the Islanders, with a three goal/eight assist split. Rookie Kaden Goodwin leads the team, and the SIJHL, in playoff goals with six. His eight points are one better than Ryan Doucette’s seven (3G 4A). Rookies Carter Poddubny and Nickolas Fagnilli checked in seven and six points respectively. Defenceman Jacob Sargent had one goal and five assists. Five players had five points: rookie Carter Nailen, d-man Brydon Bell, rookie Evan Lachimea, rearguard Easton Debray and rookie Matteo Salvatore. Ryan Daponte averaged a point a game. Defenceman Liam Bell had three goals in three games.

In net, Ashton Sadauskas garnered three wins, with a 1.67 GAA and .914 SV%.

Rookie Travis VanderZwaag won the other playoff match, allowing three goals.

Nailen and Goodwin are on four-game point streaks in the playoffs.

Kam River scored 12 power play goals in 24 chances for a 50.0% efficiency, while killing off 13 of 15 Islander power plays for a penalty kill of 86.7%. 

Comments from Kam River coach Jesse Messier.

Injuries: Four players are out with injuries, according to Messier. 

Scouting report on Red Lake: “They’re a hard working team. Even their skilled guys, all those guys work extremely hard. They play an extremely structured system. They don’t give you much room, much time or space on the ice whatsoever. They’re really going to make you earn it.”

Keys to success: “Special teams is always going to be a key to success. Red Lake had the best penalty kill throughout the season, especially when we’re out there in Red Lake, we struggled to really convert on the power play. At the same their power play was successful against us. I think special teams is going to be a big thing. Just keep an even keel all throughout the season. Not trying to ride those ups and downs, just stay focused on what we need to do. That’s kind of been our focus all year. From one period to the next, from one game to the next, just focus in on what we need to do. It goes with keeping our emotions in check. In playoffs, our group can get back to even in their mindsets will be huge for us.” 

Overall feel: “It’s good. Guys are excited. We have multiple guys out of the line-up. It’s one of those things where it’s next man up. The guys who have been filling in lately, maybe not so much filling in but who haven’t played so much in the regular season, those guys have stepped up. Comes from that competition mindset that we’ve had all year in practice. Practices, games, the guys in that room push each other. It’s starting to show. Guys are excited, chomping at the bit to get going. We know this is going to be a really tough test and challenge. . . The team that plays closest to their identity through 60 minutes will be the team that comes out on top. We’re really looking forward to the challenge.”

Red Lake defeated the Ice Dogs in five close games.

Aiden Corbett leads the team in points, seven, and goals, four. Rookie Noah Tenney also has seven points with three goals and four assists. Ryker Watt also has four playoff goals. Matthew MacPherson and Blake Hiltermann have six points, tied with Watt. Luke DeCorby has two goals and three assists, and Nathan Dann, back after a long stint in sick bay, has two goals and two assists.

A total of 14 players played all five games. 

In net, Ethan Neitsch and Noah Davis have two wins each. Neitsch has 219 minutes between the pipes to Davis’ 102. Davis has a 2.36 GAA, and .931 SV%. Neitsch has 2.75/.928 line.

Red Lake’s power play was 33.3% against Dryden, with an 87.5% penalty kill.

Comments from RLM head coach Lee Stone:

Injuries: “Like anyone, when you go through five difficult, really hard-to-play-against team, we’re banged up. I don’t know that we have anything necessarily long term. We may get one player back who missed all of the first round. We seem to be in a good place all things considered.” Sniper Nathan Dann is a notable return, getting stronger each day.

Scouting report on Kam River: “Obviously a fantastic team. Incredibly well-coached. They move the puck very well. That’s something we’ll have to try to defend. It’s just how well they transition pucks up ice. They’re incredibly gifted. They maintain possession on zone entries, they run quite a few switches in the offensive zone. Very structured, very disciplined team. We’re going to have to be at our best. We’re young. We’re a little bit naive, which I think is a benefit to us. We think we can beat anyone if we play our best. That’s exactly what we’re going to have to do to beat Kam River, there’s no question.”

Keys to success: “We’re a good fore-checking team. We can play pretty physical. We just exited a series against Dryden, a team that plays hard. I don’t think it’s an advantage necessarily. Kam can play the same way. For us, we want to get pucks deep. Our special teams have been really good for us all season, both our power play and our penalty kill. That’s a major key to any series.”

Overall feel: “I feel confident, right? At the end of the day it’s one game at a time. I’m sure they feel the exact same way. We’re excited to get down there. I think it’s important for us to win one on the road there in those first two games. We’ll certainly be prepared as best we can to do that. . . Both teams match up well. We have a lot of respect for each other. It’s a seven-game series. There’ll be a little animosity there. It’ll be interesting to see how to handle that.”