Oliver Paipoonge, ON – The Kam River Fighting Walleye learned a valuable lesson on Saturday night: don’t mess with the Dryden GM Ice Dogs’ Powerplay.
The first place Fighting Walleye, who sat seven regulars in the final regular season game, had no answer for the SIJHL’s number one powerplay. The Ice Dogs rattled off 3 goals with the man advantage, and another just after a Walleye penalty expired, and that was the difference in the hockey game.
The night started off with a touching ceremony honouring Ethan Lang. The 20-year-old forward was playing in his 100th regular season game for Kam River, having never missed a game in the franchises’ history.
A tight first period saw neither team able to break the goose egg, as both teams headed to their rooms tied at 0 after 1 period of play.
The squads traded goals back-and-forth in the second, Dryden banging home 3 rebound goals in the frame and the Walleye answering back each time.
First it was Kaden Bandura, with his 8th of the season, getting his club on the board 5 minutes into the period. 5 minutes later, Riley Borody slipped a quick shot from the outside hash marks past Dryden goalie Eric Clark to even the score.
Dryden’s Jack Cullen scored his second of the year to put his team ahead by one, 90 seconds after Borody’s equalizer. Answering back for the Fighting Walleye a minute later was Euan Morrison, on a beautiful behind-his-back redirect, for his 11th goal of the campaign. Then, with under a minute to play in the middle frame, Brady Frattinger crashed the net and banged home a rebound to give the visitors another one-goal cushion.
It appeared as though the Dogs would take the lead into the second intermission, but with one second left on the clock, Logan Gallaher ripped a top corner shot past Clark for his 6th of the season, and the game was knotted up at 3 apiece.
The third period was where the Fish ran into penalty trouble. Three successive powerplay goals for Dryden, off the sticks of Landen Stromme, Jack Cullen, and Max Roby, put the GM Ice Dogs in front for good. A late-game bouncer by James Hooton that eluded Walleye netminder Jack Orchard would round out the scoring and give the visitors a 7-3 win.
The GM Ice Dogs, who secured 2nd place in the SIJHL standings, now prepare for their playoff-opening series against the Fort Frances Lakers. That series is set to start this coming week.
The Fighting Walleye, SIJHL regular season champions, receive a bye in the first round of the playoffs and await the result of the other series to determine their opponents in the next round. The Walleye will play the lowest seeded team remaining.
G and G Excavating 3 Stars
3rd Star – Landen Stromme – DRY
2nd Star – Jack Cullen – DRY
1st Star – Morgan Henderson – KRW