By Tanner Schafer
Spooner, WI – It was a much needed get right game for the Wisconsin Lumberjacks at home as they snapped an 11-game losing streak by beating the Fort Frances Lakers 9-0. The Lakers looked to be a tricky opponent coming into the matchup. Despite being last in the SIJHL, Fort Frances was on a 3-game win streak and in those games, goaltender Brenden Stroble had a save percentage of .950.
The Lumberjacks struck early and often in the first period, and it was the usual suspects. Dillion Phillips, who is tied for 7th in the SI in scoring, found the back of the net less than four minutes into the game. Caden Sutter and Kyle Siiter logged assists on the goal. After that the first line of the Lumberjacks took over. Zach Carson would score from the point with the assist going to Salvatore Poggiali. Connor McClure netted the next two for the Jacks one of which was a spectacular individual effort, McMillen would assist on both with Poggiali collecting an assist. Axel Wyatt would follow that up with a goal from the point and Carson scored his second to give the Lumberjacks a 6-0 lead after 1. It was complete domination as Wisconsin outshot Fort Frances 17-3 in the frame and goaltender Brenden Stroble was replaced in net during the intermission.
When asked about the result Laker coach Paul MacLean said, “it was just one of those nights that happens where a few minutes into the game you knew it was going to be a long one. We are a very young team with a lot of new players so this happens from time to time. We’re very pleased with the progression they have shown in the 3 games prior to this one, and we will look to right the ship tomorrow night.”
The rest of the game slowed down as Fort Frances actually outshot Wisconsin in the 2nd period but couldn’t find the back of the net. Ryder McMillen would score his lone goal of the game in the frame, a blistering one timer on the powerplay with assists going to McClure and Carson.
Carson would complete his hat trick on a tap in goal in the third period, and Zach Johnson buried a feed from Drake Flynn to extend the Wisconsin to a 9-goal lead. The Lakers put up 7 shots in the 3rd, and all were stopped by Kyler Lowden securing his first shutout of the season. It was a comfortable performance for Lowden as Wisconsin played great team defense and limited quality looks.
After the game Lumberjacks’ captain Salvatore Poggiali had some thoughts on the team’s performance, “Just from watching film we knew their goalie was on a hot streak, but coach Lein told us to go to the net and take away his space and we would get plenty of chances which we did.” When asked about breaking the losing streak the captain said, “It feels great to get back into the win column, I think it was a combination of getting comfortable with the new guys we have and having a week off to reset that worked, and we can be a dangerous team moving forward.”
It was a big scoring night for a few Lumberjacks, Ryder McMillen continues to pace the SIJHL after recording 5 points, 1 goal and 4 assists. Zach Carson added an assist to his hat trick for a 4-point night. And Connor McClure evened up his goals and assists at 2 a piece.
Lowden recorded a 24 save shutout for Wisconsin. Stroble stopped 11 of 17 in a losing effort and Ryan Tanner had 25 saves on 28 shots in relief.
Attendance at the Spooner Civic Center was 250 where the teams will face off again Saturday at 7:05.