HOYT LAKES, Minn. – The Thief River Falls Norskies picked up a pair of goals from Brett Piper to help lift them to a 7-2 triumph over the Minnesota Iron Rangers Saturday in Game 3 of their Superior International Junior Hockey League quarter-final match-up at Hoyt Lakes Arena.
With the result, Thief River Falls takes the best-of-five series 3-0 and will now meet the Red Lake Miners in one SIJHL semifinal while the Thunder Bay North Stars will take on the Dryden GM Ice Dogs in the other.
The schedules for both of those best-of-seven affairs will be announced by the league once finalized.
Saturday’s tilt saw the Norskies strike twice early to gain the early edge on markers from Michael Crosbie and Piper before the contest was five minutes old.
Heading to the second stanza, the Iron Rangers cut into the deficit at 3:39 as Wyatt Phaneuf set-up Kip Knutson for his initial SIJHL playoff goal.
The visitors regrouped though and tallied three times before the frame was complete to go up 5-1 after 40 minutes thanks to Zach Ross, Piper and Hunter Bjorge.
Moving on to the third, Thief River Falls extended their lead as Riley Bergland and Blake Nelson connected in rapid succession to put them up by six.
Cam Birkeland did get one back for Minnesota at 8:29 in what would be the final goal of the series.
Connor Bowey, Nick Harder and Owen Lee all chipped in with two assists in the TRF victory.
The Norskies’ Bailey Schmitz recorded the win while Nick Corneliusen suffered the season-ending loss for the Iron Rangers.
No. 3 Thief River Falls Norskies vs. No. 6 Minnesota Iron Rangers
Thief River Falls wins best-of-five series 3-0
Game 1: Thief River Falls 12 Minnesota 0
Game 2: Thief River Falls 5 Minnesota 2
Game 3: Thief River Falls 7 Minnesota 2