WELLINGTON – With both teams facing a must-win situation to stay alive at the Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canada Jr. A championship at Essroc Arena in Wellington, Ont., it was the Fort Frances Lakers (SIJHL) who came out on top over the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners Thursday afternoon with a 6-3 victory.
With the result the Lakers advance to Friday’s DHC semifinal vs. either the Wellington Dukes or the Toronto Lakeshore Patriots at 7:30 p.m.
The Gold Miners meanwhile saw their season come to a close as the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League title holders were eliminated from further competition.
In Thursday’s contest it Fort Frances struck first in this one as Lakers’ defenceman Riley Daly sped down the left side and as he was going around the net fed an open Bryce Lipinski in front who chipped the puck past Kirkland Lake starter Jeremy Pominville at 4:37.
Answering right back two minutes later the Gold Miners tied things up as Everett Thompson swatted in the equalizer into the open side.
A late man advantage opportunity allowed the SIJHL champion Lakers to retake the lead as Mason Meyer one-timed home a hard blast from the left of Pominville with just 10.5 seconds left in the stanza.
The Gold Miners used a persistent forecheck to tie things up six minutes into the second as Tanner Lafrance spun in the slot and went high over the shoulder of goalkeeper Jordan Cartney.
Some precision passing put Fort Frances back on top with their second man advantage effort of the afternoon as Lyndon Lipinski finished off a crisp three-way passing play with Meyer and Lucas Debenedet.
Fort Frances continued to press in the latter stages of the period and were rewarded as Debenedet teed one up for Brent Aiken who whistled one over top a downed Pominville at 19:41.
Knowing their season was on the line Kirkland Lake came out hard in the third as pressed the attack.
They would pull to within one with 7:23 remaining in regulation as Ethan Stron went high on Cartney from the right face-off circle during a Gold Miners’ power play.
However, the Lakers big line answered right back two minutes later as Lyndon Lipinski finished off a two on one with Debenedet by deking left to right and depositing the puck into the corner of the net.
Kirkland Lake pulled Pominville with 90 seconds remaining in favour of the extra attacker, but Miles Nolan iced it with an empty net effort at 19:27.
Shots on goal favoured Fort Frances 39-33.
Player of the game nods went to Lyndon Lipinski of the Lakers and Jonathon Langford of the Gold Miners.