By Tanner Schafer
Spooner, WI – The Lumberjacks secured a weekend sweep of Fort Frances with a 5-2 win on Saturday Night. The Jacks never trailed in this game despite it being much closer than the 9-0 drubbing the night before.
It was a subdued first period as both goalies were in good form. Ryan Tanner made stops on several quality looks in route to a 12 save first frame. Kyler Lowden stopped all 7 shots he faced. The lone mark on the scoresheet for the first was a double minor penalty for high sticking assessed to the Lumberjacks captain Salvatore Poggiali.
The game opened up moving into the second period, with less than five minutes played Drake Flynn and Zach Johnson of Wisconsin ran a give and go up the ice that ended in a goal after Johnson cut to the front of the net and scored his own rebound. Fort Frances would answer back seconds after a Wisconsin penalty ended. Eli Nielson found himself open in the slot after a pass from Ryker Watt and made it count. Wisconsin reclaimed their lead with 7 minutes left in the frame as Dylan Jouppi and Ryder McMillen assisted on a Connor McClure breakaway goal. Tanner made a save on the initial shot, but the rebound was able to slowly slide in. The final tally of the second was a buzzer beater on a 4 on 3 powerplay, a rocket off the stick of McMillen with assists going to McClure and Jouppi.
The Lumberjacks found themselves back on a 4 on 3 advantage early in the third when Poggiali won a faceoff back to Zach Carson who found the twine for a 4-1 lead. Dylan Wedword brought the game within 2 on a powerplay goal halfway through the period, Cooper Fink picked up an assist. The Lumberjacks would add an insurance goal as Dylan Olsen carried the puck deep into the zone, behind the net, and knocked the goalkeeper’s water bottle off the net with a great shot from a tough angle.
After the game Lumberjacks defensemen Connor Hacker talked about the improved powerplay that had 2 goals again tonight, “We have had the same basic setup most of the year, it’s mostly just tinkering and making small adjustments and we finally have it where we want it.” Change have been a big theme for the Wisconsin squad as they often shake up the line pairings, and Hacker as well as Carson have spent some time moving between forward and defense, “I played forward all last year” Hacker started “It was a pretty big adjustment moving back to defense at first but I as the year goes on all the guys are getting comfortable with change and able to play at a high level no matter where we are or how the course of the game changes our lineup.”
Kyler Lowden stopped 21 of 23 in a winning effort, Ryan Tanner played extremely well with 44 saves on 49 shots but ended with the loss.
Connor McClure earned 1st star honors while Ryder McMillen picked up the 2nd star and Dylan Olsen was the 3rd star.
Attendance at the Spooner Civic Center was 303
The Lumberjacks are next in action this weekend with Friday and Saturday games in Sioux Lookout before a rematch with Fort Frances on Sunday. Before that matchup the Lakers will host league leading Kam River for a weekend series.