By James Brohm
Sioux Lookout, WI – With each team winning on home ice so far, the best-of-seven series was reduced to best-of-three. Bombers fans packed the Hanger to near-legal capacity for the third home playoff game in a row.
The Lumberjacks applied heavy pressure early on in the first period but the league’s best goaltender, Jake Manners was strong as usual. The Wisconsin Lumberjacks did get on the board first with a power play goal at 7:06 of the first period. Salvatore Poggiali’s quick release from the point through traffic found a way through and just caught the inside of the post. Shots were heavily in favour for Wisconsin with 17, compared to Sioux Lookout’s seven shots registered in the opening frame. The Bombers finished the period with several strong shifts, with their forechecking creating a number of Grade-A scoring chances. Nevertheless, the period ended with the visiting team holding a 1-0 lead.
The Bombers continued to dictate the play to start the second period. After several more chances, Alex Lucas beat his man on the zone entry, bringing the puck behind the net and feeding Graeme Patrick out front for a beautiful backdoor play that beat Kyler Lowden over the blocker. Blake Burke got his fourth of the playoffs at 6:02. He picked up a puck of the boards in the neutral zone, dangled past one Wisconsin defender, froze Lowden, and slipped the puck into the yawning cage behind him. The rest of the period was a good back and forth battle, each squad getting some glorious opportunities, but the goaltenders were sharp. The teams retired to the dressing rooms with the home team up 2-1.
The Lumberjacks tied the game up at 1:53 into the third. Zach Johnson, all alone in front took a centering pass from Dillon Phillips and popped it into the Bombers’ net. Blake Burke regained the lead for the Bombers at 6:05. He scored his league-leading fifth goal of the playoffs on a defensive zone error by Salvatore Poggiali. Burke intercepted a weak pass through the middle by the Lumberjacks captain and skated in all alone to shovel a backhand past Lowden. Simon Davidson would tie the game tucking the biscuit under Manners’ pad at 15:49 of the third period. For the second time in the series the game would need extra time to be decided, tied 3-3 at the end of regulation.
Both teams were cautious to start the extra frame, neither wanting to make the mistake that ended the game. The intense action had fans holding their breath for much of the first 10 minutes. Finally, Alex Lucas stole the puck from Simon Davidson in the Bombers zone and headed up ice with it. He dished off to Graeme Patrick who put a hard wrist shot off the right pad of Kyler Lowden. Birthday boy, Mitchell Daines was right on the doorstep to sweep the rebound into the net sending the Hangar into an absolute frenzy.
Once again, these speedy and skilled teams highlighted the goaltending battle between Jake Manners and Kyler Lowden. Manners picked up the overtime win, stopping 57 of 60 shots on goal in three and a half periods and Lowden made 37 saves on 40 shots.
The Bombers now hold a 3-2 series lead with both teams travelling back to Wisconsin for Game 6 Sunday night.
Photo Credit: Suverina Grenier/Sioux Lookout Bombers