Updated: Wilderness leading Lakers in championship seriesThe Cloquet entry into the Superior International Junior Hockey League finals won their home game Wednesday night to give them a 2-1 lead in the series against the Fort Frances (Ontario) Lakers. If the Wilderness win Friday's game in Fort Frances, the Saturday night game in Cloquet could be for the title.
By: Brady Slater, Pine Journal
Earlier this week Rod Aldoff of the Minnesota Wilderness was named his league’s co-coach of the year — the day after his team lost for the first time in the Kardashian pregnancy.
With the loss Sunday, the Cloquet entry into the Superior International Junior Hockey League finals entered Wednesday night’s Game 3 at Northwoods Credit Union Arena tied 1-1 with the Fort Frances (Ontario) Lakers. The teams will return to the ice for Game 4 Friday in Fort Frances, then to Cloquet Saturday for Game 5. “If-necessary” games 6 and 7 will be played at Fort Frances and Cloquet, respectively, on April 22 and 24 with all games starting at 7:30 p.m.
In between all of these games, much downtime will transpire and much hockey will be considered by Aldoff and his players.
“We all watch a lot of hockey,” Aldoff said, “because there’s a lot of hockey to watch.”
And what does he watch for?
“I don’t always look at goals and stuff like that,” he said, then spoke directly to his team’s recent 2-1 overtime loss. “Did we have good chances? Did we play hard enough to win the game? They got one deflection off a body or we could have won that game easy. We had opportunities. Things didn’t fall our way.”
Aldoff’s team is skating somewhere north of 50 wins, south of five losses (55-4-0-2) and pushing its credibility into deeper and darker territory, where a hot goalie like the one at Fort Frances can start to play into the opposition’s head. Too early for that, though, says Aldoff.
“Especially this time of year,” he said, “you prove yourself every day.”
Aldoff says he’ll take in prep and developmental level games with the eyes of a scout. He watches the NHL for enjoyment.
“I pick up a lot,” he said Wednesday.
Like how does a team respond to a loss as rare as tulips in April?
“We’ll be at our best,” he said, “and we’ll get to work tonight.”
UPDATE: Wilderness take 2-1 series lead on Lakers
CLOQUET, Minn. – A Dan Divis power play marker 13:45 into the second period proved to be the game-winner as the Minnesota Wilderness defeated the Fort Frances Lakers 4-1 Wednesday evening in game 3 of the Superior International Junior Hockey League’s Bill Salonen Cup final at Northwoods Credit Union Arena.
With the victory the Wilderness now lead the best-of-seven final 2-1 with game 4 set for Friday at Ice For Kids Arena in Fort Frances at 7:30 p.m.
After successfully killing off a Wilderness man advantage opportunity, Fort Frances opened the scoring as Tyler Broderson redirected a high blast from the right point by Jon Bachman that eluded Gordy Defiel at 12:17 of the first stanza.
In the middle frame the Wilderness used a quick transition to notch the equalizer as Nick Szopinski powered his way down the left wing and backhanded a pass to a streaking Conrad Sampair in front who went high on Talor Joseph at 8:06.
Five and a half minutes later Minnesota then took their first lead of the night, during the late stages of a power play, as defenceman Divis wristed a shot past Joseph from the middle of the ice from his point position.
Jake Larson, the SIJHL’s leading goal scorer during the course of the season, added to his totals with another in the playoffs and he sped down the ice on a partial break and neatly tucked in the puck for some insurance at 18:47.
Jordan Shockley then iced it with an empty net effort with a second to go to conclude the night’s scoring.
Shots on goal favoured the Wilderness by a 51-23 margin.
Bill Salonen Cup final schedule
Game 1: Wilderness 5, Lakers 1
Game 2: Lakers 2, Wilderness 1 (OT)
Game 3: Wilderness 4, Lakers 1
Game 4: Friday, April 19 at Fort Frances 7:30 p.m. (Ice for Kids Arena)
Game 5: Saturday, April 20 at Minnesota 7:30 p.m. (Northwoods Credit Union Arena)
Game 6*: Monday, April 22 at Fort Frances 7:30 p.m. (Ice for Kids Arena)
Game 7*: Wednesday, April 24 at Minnesota 7:30 p.m. (Northwoods Credit Union Arena)
*Games will be played only if necessary