Rupert the OT hero as Lakers take Game 5




Release Date: Friday, April 22, 2016

Photo credit: Joey Payeur, Fort Frances Times

By Joey Payeur
Fort Frances Times

Rupert OT hero as Lakers take Game 5

FORT FRANCES, Ont. — A.J. Rupert’s first go-ahead goal didn’t hold up.

No such problem on the second.

Rupert fired home the game-winner 50 seconds into overtime to give the Fort Frances Lakers a thrilling 6-5 victory over the Dryden GM Ice Dogs in Game 5 of the Bill Salonen Cup final at the Ice for Kids Arena.

The Lakers have their first lead of the series with a 3-2 advantage, setting the two-time defending SIJHL champions up for a possible three-peat tomorrow night in Game 6 in Dryden.

Nolan Ross started the decisive play deep in the Dryden zone, getting it over to Dylan Robertson, who somehow threaded a backhand pass through two Ice Dogs sticks to Rupert in the slot.

The midseason addition to the Lakers zinged a shot to the stick side of surprise Dryden starter Taylor Unruh, who got the nod ahead of Troy Pierce despite Pierce allowing only seven goals total in the first four games.

Rupert, who finished with a game-high four points, had given the Fort a 5-4 lead at 12:01 of the third on the Lakers’ third power play goal of the night, smacking home a rebound from the doorstep after Ross’ initial chance was stopped by Unruh.

Derek McPhail answered that 54 seconds later, sending home a quick shot from in close to even the contest again.

Matt Houston gave Dryden a 2-0 lead in the first period with his first and second goals of the playoffs, respectively, at 3:09 (power play) and 12:58.

The opening goal was accidentally swept into the Fort net past Fort goalie Pierce Dushenko by Lakers defenceman Ryan Gazich, while the second came off a deflection of a Kyle Pouncy point shot.

It was Dylan-mania after that for the Fort, though.

League MVP Dylan Robertson connected with the man-advantage at 7:50 of the second, on a nice cross-ice feed from Ross.

Dylan Kooner then notched his fifth of the postseason at 9:28 to even the contest with a blast from the left wing.

Robertson gave the Lakers their first lead at 14:31, again on the power play, as he banked one in off an Ice Dogs defender while trying to hit Rupert at the side of the net to make it 3-2.

Former Laker Ben Smaha answered 40 seconds later, potting a rebound of Woody Galbraith’s original shot.

McPhail made good on a Dryden man advantage 1:03 into the third, zipping a shot past Dushenko to put the Ice Dogs up 4-3.

Back came the Lakers, as a great forechecking shift by the line of Cole Tymkin, Jason Wilson and Jaden Gustafson — who jumped on the ice before the face-off at the last possible second — ended with Gustafson one-timing Wilson’s feed to him at the top of the crease behind Unruh at 9:04.

Dryden outshot Fort Frances 39-32 in the game, with Dushenko making 34 saves to get the win.

Unruh, who was just 1-8 against the Fort in the regular season, took the loss after making 26 stops.

If the series ends tomorrow, it will mirror the outcome of a year ago, as the Lakers won the final in six games with the clincher coming in Dryden.


The Bill Salonen Cup champion will advance to represent the SIJHL at the Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canada Jr. A championship, May 3-7 in Kirkland Lake, Ont.

All SIJHL playoff games are available online at

SIJHL Bill Salonen Cup (Series D)

No. 1 Fort Frances Lakers vs. No. 2 Dryden GM Ice Dogs
Fort Frances leads best-of-seven series 3-2
Game 1: Dryden 6 Fort Frances 2
Game 2: Fort Frances 2 Dryden 1
Game 3: Dryden 4 Fort Frances 1
Game 4: Fort Frances 2 Dryden 0
Game 5: Fort Frances 6 Dryden 5 (OT)
Game 6: Saturday, April 23 @ Dryden 7:30 p.m. (Memorial)
Game 7*: Tuesday, April 26 @ Fort Frances 7:30 p.m. (Ice for Kids)

*-if necessary