Oliver Paipoonge, ON – The Red Lake Miners came out of the gates flying on Saturday night at NorWest Arena. Luckily for the Kam River Fighting Walleye, it's not always how you start, but how you finish.
The Miners bombarded the Walleye in the first period, out-working the hosts to the tune of a 25 to 7 shot advantage in the opening frame. The Miners had a 3-0 lead on the scoreboard after 20 minutes, thanks to two goals from Ryan Hunter and another from Nic Bolin.
But, the never-say-die Walleye slowly but surely came fighting back. The comeback was started by Ethan Lang at the 7 minute mark of the second, who took a Zach Fortin pass in the slot and banked a shot in to give his team some life. Five minutes later, defenceman Kersey Reich was set up in front by Carson Gorst, and he made no mistake, burying the puck for his second goal in as many nights. After Jordan Baranesky scored his 12th goal of the season on a penalty shot, Red Lake took a 4-2 lead into the second intermission.
The two teams battled for every inch in the third period, with first place in the SIJHL up for grabs. Kam River pulled to within one at the halfway point of the third when Colton Crysler slapped a rebound past Miners goaltender Cole Wheaton. The score remained 4-3 Miners until Ethan Lang capitalized on a Red Lake turnover in front of the net and tied the game with 90 seconds left on the clock. The goal was Lang's team-leading 9th of the season.
The Fighting Walleye completed the comeback a minute in to the 3-on-3 overtime period, when Kam River captain Zach Fortin pounced on a loose puck in the crease and scored the game winner, sending the NorWest crowd into a frenzy. Trenton Morriseau's assist on the goal gave him 3 helpers on the night.
Austin Madge was once again terrific in between the pipes for the Walleye, stopping 44 of 48 shots, giving his club the chance to rally. Madge earned his league-leading 7th win of the season.
With the weekend sweep of the Miners, Kam River now sits alone atop the SIJHL standings, 2 points up on their crosstown rival North Stars, with 3 games in hand. This sets up a marquee series next weekend at NorWest, as the Fighting Walleye host the Stars for huge games on Friday and Saturday night. Advanced online tickets for the weekend series will be on sale at www.fightingwalleye.com.
6:50 RLM Hunter (6), Asst: Whaley
17:21 RLM Hunter (7), Asst: Piekarczyk
18:17 RLM Bolin (8), Asst: Whaley
7:36 KRW Lang (8), Asst: Morriseau, Fortin
12:19 KRW Reich (2), Asst: Gorst, Dunmore
13:29 RLM Baranesky (12), Asst: None (PS)
9:23 KRW Crysler (6), Asst: Enegren, Morrow
18:21 KRW Lang (9), Asst: Morriseau, Gorst
1:07 KRW Fortin (2), Asst: Sedgwick, Morriseau
G and G Excavating 3 Stars
1st – Zach Fortin
2nd – Ethan Lang