By Gary Moskalyk
Game 1 March 24, Wisconsin 3 Sioux Lookout 5
Sioux Lookout scored the first two and the final three as the Bombers overcame a 3-2 deficit to defeat the visiting Wisconsin Lumberjacks 5-3 before a raucous Hangar crowd of 559.
The Burke boys–Connor and Blake–combined on the game-tying and game-winning markers in the third stanza.
Lucas Trimarchi scored on a low shot from the top of the right circle to open the scoring. Nathan Dann’s shot through traffic at 19:43 put the Bombers up 2-0 through the period. Both were on Sioux Lookout power plays.
Wisconsin poured in three goals in the middle frame. Connor McClure deflected Dillon Phillips’ shot at 4:12. Zach Johnson recorded the next two, both unassisted. Johnson scored on a shorthanded breakaway and then converted a rebound at 15:07 for a 3-2 Wisconsin lead.
Blake Burke slid home a pass from Connor Burke at 11:46 of the third, and then Connor returned the favour as Blake gave the Bombers a 4-3 lead at 15:10. Ty Bahm’s 170-footer split the uprights as his empty-netter at 18:35 sealed the victory.
Blake Burke added two assists as did Trimarchi and Tyler Decoff had two helpers for the Bombers.
Jake Manners made 40 saves to secure the win while Kyler Lowden stopped 33 of 37 in the Wisconsin net.
Game 2 March 25, Wisconsin 2 Sioux Lookout 8
Sioux Lookout took a 4-0 lead by 12:47 of the first period and never looked back, defeating the Lumberjacks 8-2 before 580 fans at the Hangar. Jake Manners saved 52 for his second win. Tegan Neuman led a spirited Bomber attack with two goals and two assists.
Blake Burke scored on a tic-tac-toe with Connor Burke and Lucas Trimarchi to open the scoring at 3:38. Tegan Neuman and Graham Patrick struck 13 seconds apart midway through, and Neuman accepted a long pass from Ty Bahm and roared in a breakaway, netting his second of the game on backhander for the 4-0 score.
Zach Carson made it 4-1 at 19:23 of the first frame on an unassisted effort.
Wisconsin outshot Sioux Lookout 19-17 in the first.
Sioux Lookout locked the game down with three unanswered in the second. Trimarchi and Bahm with a pair made it 7-1.
With the game decided, the physicality ramped up in the third. A total of three minors were assessed through two frames, but 28 penalty minutes were meted out by referees Chris Bobczynski and Lance Dysievick in the final period.
Dillon Phillips scored unassisted for Wisconsin, and Tait Howell replied for the Bombers to round out the scoring.
Both teams were 0-5 with the man advantage. Five Bombers counted two or more points. Bahm had an assist for a three-point evening. Blake Burke and Howell had a goal and assist each, and Alex Lucas had two helpers.
Manners upped his playoff save percentage to .948. Kyler Lowden turned aside 40 of 48 in a losing cause.
Games three and four are in Wisconsin Tuesday and Wednesday.
Game 3 March 28, Wisconsin 4 Sioux Lookout 2
Wisconsin won their first playoff game in franchise history with a 4-2 victory over Sioux Lookout.
Blake Burke scored the first period’s only goal, deflecting a shot from Graeme Patrick for a 1-0 Bomber lead.
Wisconsin tallied two second period goals to go ahead. Drake Flynn scored from in close on a Lumberjacks’ powerplay and Brandon McDonald was wide open and deposited his first of the playoffs past Jake Manners for a 2-1 lead.
Tegan Neuman tied it up at 49 seconds of the third, blocking a point shot and then rumbling down the wing and beating Kyler Lowden on a backhander.
With overtime looming, Dillon Phillips corralled a loose puck and bulged the twine with 74 ticks on the clock. Sal Poggiali’s empty netter at 19:51 sealed the deal for Wisconsin.
Lowden stopped 26 of 28 for his first win. Manners made 28 saves for Sioux Lookout.
The Bombers were 1-3 with the powerplay. Wisconsin was shut down in their lone man advantage opportunity.
Ryder McMillen was the only player to collect more than a point, collecting two assists on the night. 178 fans attended.
Game 4 March 29, Wisconsin 5 Sioux Lookout 2
Wisconsin won their second in a row and tied up the series with a 5-2 win over Sioux Lookout in Spooner, WI. All four games have been won by the home side.
Calum McGill opened the scoring for Sioux Lookout, slapping in a shot from the point. Wisconsin responded with the next four.
Timothy LeRoy fired in his first of the playoffs with a snapper from the right circle dot. Dillon Phillips scored from the slot 50 seconds later as the Lumberjacks skated off the ice with a 2-1 lead after 20.
Connor McClure and Sal Poggiali gave Wisconsin a 4-1 lead. Poggiali accepted a breakaway pass from Phillips and scored two seconds after the expiration of Lumberjacks’ penalty.
Alex Lucas scored at 18:03 of the second frame to pull Sioux Lookout to within two goals.
Drake Flynn stole the puck from behind the Bomber net and scored unassisted at 4:53 of the third to finish off the scoring. The game however, had considerable life left.
Mitchel Daines, Tyler Decoff and Nolan Palmer for Sioux Lookout, and LeRoy, Dylan Olsen and Caden Sutter for Wisconsin were all assessed fighting majors at 8:09 of the third. Only five minor penalties were called leading into the melee.
Tyler Tykolis-Casey and Simon Davidson were sent off at 12:44 after Tykolis-Casey punched league leading scorer Ryder McMillen behind the play and Davidson came to his aid. A total of 53 penalty minutes were assessed.
Wisconsin was full value for the win, outshooting the Bombers 51-26. Phillips had a goal and assist for Wisconsin, and Postal chipped in with two apples.
Game 5 March 31, Wisconsin 3 Sioux Lookout 4 OT
Jake Manners stopped 57 shots including 13 in overtime as Sioux Lookout defeated Wisconsin 4-3. Alex Lucas scored the game winner at 12:11 of period four in front of 545 hometown fans.
Game 6 heads to Wisconsin. for a Sunday 7:05 match. No visiting team has won a game yet in the series.
Sal Poggiali scored the lone first period goal on a Wisconsin power play with a low wrist shot from the point.
Sioux Lookout forged ahead in the second frame with goals from Graeme Patrick and Blake Burke. Patrick beat Wisconsin’s Kyler Lowden with a high glove-side effort, and Burke stripped the puck at centre ice and scored unassisted at 6:02.
Zach Johnson tied it up for Wisconsin at 1:53 of the third. Johnson buried Dillon Phillips’ centering feed for his 3rd of the playoffs.
Blake Burke intercepted an errant pass and scored on a breakaway for a 3-2 Bomber lead. Burke’s on fire, leading all SIJHL scorers with five goals and nine assists.
Simon Davidson picked a clutch time to score his first playoff goal, going five-hole on Manners at 15:49 to send the game into overtime.
The Lumberjacks dominated play in extra time, outshooting the Bombers 13-7. Alex Lucas scored on a rebound for the Sioux Lookout win.
Wisconsin was 1-3 with the man advantage. Sioux Lookout struck out in four chances. Only nine minors were called, five to the Lumberjacks.
The two clubs will have the SIJHL stage all to themselves as Thunder Bay, Dryden and first place Kam River have punched their tickets to the quarterfinals.
Game 6 April 2, Wisconsin 5 Sioux Lookout 3
Cooper McClure and his Wisconsin teammates are taking it to game seven. Lumberjacks head coach Doug Lein predicted this quarterfinal series would be the best of the SIJHL lot and he was right.
McClure scored the first two goals of the game and notched the game-winner at 8:02 of the third–unassisted–as the Lumberjacks defeated Sioux Lookout 5-3 in Spooner, WI.
The McClure Boys, Cooper and Connor, combined for a 2-0 Wisconsin lead through 20 minutes. Cooper’s high shot blocker side in the slot at 5:07 was the ice breaker. Sal Poggiali got the primary assist with Connor in the secondary. Cooper ripped one high glove side at 16:23 for his second of the game and playoffs. Connor fed him the puck and Ryan Kayser also hit the score sheet
Sioux Lookout’s Burke Gang responded in the second, tying the game with two powerplay goals.
Connor’s wrister at 13:30 and Blake’s deflection at 16:57 knotted the score. Both brothers assisted on each other’s goals, with Tyler Decoff and Nathan Dann also in on the goals.
Dylan Jouppi’s point shot put Wisconsin up 3-2 at 4:45 of the third. Blake Burke tied it 1:32 later, burying his own rebound for his 7th playoff goal of the year.
Cooper McClure’s unassisted marker at 8:02 gave Wisconsin the 4-3 lead. Sioux Lookout pulled Jake Manners with 1:25 to go but couldn’t find the equalizer.
Simon Davidson scored an empty-netter from centre ice at 19:19 to seal the deal. Kayser and Conner McClure had two assists for Wisconsin. Blake Burke had two goals and an assist and Connor Burke had a goal and helper.
The Bombers were 2-3 on the powerplay, while the Jacks were 1-2. Only five minor penalties were called in regulation.
Kyler Lowden made 37 saves for his third win, while Manners turned aside 26 of 30. The Spooner Civic Centre hosted 336 fans. Game seven is Wednesday, April 5th in Sioux Lookout. The home team has won all six games in the series.
Game 7 April 5, Wisconsin 3 Sioux Lookout 2 OT
A classic series ended at 3:38 of overtime as Sal Poggiali fired in the game winner to give the visiting Wisconsin Lumberjacks a 3-2 before a packed house of 580 at the Hangar in Sioux Lookout.
After a tough 671 km journey up north the Lumberjacks showed no signs of travel fatigue, becoming the first visiting team to pick up a win in the series. It was a timely one. The Jacks will play first place Kam River likely on Saturday, and the Thunder Bay North Stars travel to Dryden to start their best-of-seven also projected to start on Saturday.
A wide open Poggiali opened the scoring at 10:38 of the first on a pass from Connor McClure. Cooper McClure picked up the secondary helper.
Lucas Trimarchi made a backhand pass to Ty Bahm in the slot at 15:29 of the first. Bahm collected his 4th of the playoffs.
Jake Manners made two spectacular shorthanded saves on Dillon Phillips and Brandon McDonald late in the first to keep the game knotted at 1-all.
Kyler Lowden stymied Sioux Lookout’s Nathan Dann with 3:30 left in the second frame for his biggest save.
After a scoreless second Trimarchi scored a powerplay marker on a great feed from Connor Burke to give the Bombers a 2-1 lead at 6:45 of the third. Ryder McMillen sniped his first of the playoffs four minutes later to tie the game.
Wisconsin killed off a late third period penalty to send the game into extra time.
Poggiali’s goal in overtime was the only shot registered in extra time.
Lowden turned aside 30 of 32 while Manners saved 24 of 27. Wisconsin took six minor penalties to Sioux Lookouts two.
The two evenly matched teams played all but 8:52 tied at 0-0, 1-1, or 2-2. Sioux Lookout held a slight edge–26-25–in the goals scored department. Wisconsin finally laid to rest their penchant for one-goal losses, a source of gallows humour for head coach Doug Lein all season, with their most important one-goal win of the year.
The Lumberjacks advance in 7 games to take on 1st place Kam River in the 2nd round