By Gary Moskalyk and Tanner Schafer
After testing Lumberjacks goalie Kyler Lowden all night, the Kam River Fighting Walleye were able to score two late goals in a come from behind victory to snap a two-game losing streak.
Kam River doubled up Wisconsin in shots in the first period with a final mark of 17-9, but it was the Lumberjacks who found their way onto the scoreboard first. Rookie Zach Johnson got the nod up to the first line where he scored his 6th goal of the season in only 7 contests with 3 minutes remaining in the period. SIJHL scoring leader Ryder McMillen picked up his 16th assist of the season and defensemen Dylan Jouppi secured his 13th.
Early on in the second period Caden Sutter would beat netminder Jack Orchard to extend the Jacks lead 2-0, assists were credited to Brandon McDonald and Kyle Siiter. It took thirty-nine minutes of gameplay before the Fighting Walleye found their way onto the board as Simon Bienvenue found the back of the net with the help of Ryan Doucette and Ethan Lang, making it 2-1.
It was a busy 3rd period with the scoring opened up early by Braeden Duchesne of the Walleye just under 4 minutes into the frame. With 7 minutes remaining Zach Carson would put the Jacks out front once more with his 11th goal of the season. But in the end, it was the heroics of Euan Morrison that helped to break the Fighting Walleye’s losing streak picking up an assist on Jeremy Dunmore’s game tying goal with 5 minutes left. Morrison would then bury the game winner with less than 2 minutes on the clock to snatch a victory for his club.
“Being a rookie in this league, making the jump up from Junior B , it’s been tough,” said Morrison, who scored his fourth of the year. “Everyone’s bigger, the game’s been faster, goalies are better.”
Morrison’s the most recent Walleye to provide the winning marker in a one-goal game.
“Benny (Simon Bienvenue) grabbed it, over to Doucette on the far side. Came in on a two-on-one. Their d-man went over to him. Doucette made a nice little saucer pass to me. I just took a little one-timer and put it in the net,” said Morrison, as the Walleye climbed to 11-4-1.
Both the coaches gave some insight following the game
“We feel we have a lot to figure out as a team,” said Kam River head coach Matt Valley. “I have to give credit to a lot of guys in that dressing room who, at the end of the day, got it done. We probably had 50 shots at that kid today. Lowden, is a top goalie, one of the top goalies in the league, but if he can see the puck it’s going to be an easy night for him, no matter how good or bad he is.”
“We had the same problem vs Sioux Lookout. (Jake) Manners saw all 50 shots we threw at him. Same message, same message, same message is falling on deaf ears,” Valley continued.
“Frustrated as we are as a staff right now, at the end of the day we got a win. I don’t think we’re playing up to our potential, but we’re getting wins and that’s awesome. . . We had way too many chances to have to come back from a 3-2 deficit. A lot of things to work on. A lot of positives.”
Wisconsin, 5-7-1, was loading up their bus for the trip back to Spooner. They entertain the Red Lake Miners on Friday and Saturday.
“Fifty good minutes of hockey. I think any hockey person that watched that game sees it the same way,” said Wisconsin head coach Doug Lein. “We absolutely let them dominate us the last four minutes of the second and the last six minutes of the third.
“It comes down to guys in our dressing room figuring things out, and we’re just not there yet,” he added. “We’ve got a great group. It’s right there. We’ve lost, short of the 4-1 loss to Thunder Bay, five one-goal games in our last six, something like that. Gotta figure out how to get over the top. We have no problem scoring. We have to figure out how to stop teams.”
It was a clean game with only 3 penalties, all of which were minors on Wisconsin. Lumberjacks’ goaltender Kyler Lowden stopped 45 of 49 shots. Kam River netminder Jack Orchard blocked 28 of 31 in a winning effort.
Norwest Arena attracted 300 fans for the contest.
Final Score: Fighting Walleye 4 Lumberjacks 3