Miners win away from SIJHL final with Game 4 OT triumph over North Stars



Release Date: Thursday, April 6, 2017

Photo credit: Patrick Boucha

Miners win away from SIJHL final with Game 4 OT triumph over North Stars

COCHENOUR, Ont. – Michael Di Lullo’s second goal of the game, coming with 1:32 remaining in the first overtime, lifted the English River Miners to a dramatic 5-4 victory over the Thunder Bay North Stars Thursday evening in Game 4 of their Superior International Junior Hockey League semifinal series at Cochenour Arena.

With the outcome the Miners now lead this best-of-seven set 3-1 heading into Game 5 Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Fort William Gardens in Thunder Bay.

English River opened the night’s scoring with 3:56 remaining in the opening period after a Dwayne Auger feed found Dante Raposo going down the right side as he in turn fired a cross-ice pass to Braeden Pearce whose long wrist shot from just inside the blueline zipped over the right pad of Thunder Bay starter Nathaniel Dupuis.

The North Stars drew level five and a half minutes into the middle stanza as defenceman Joe Newhouse unleashed a left point blast that whistled by Miners’ netminder Michael Lenko.

The home side regained the lead later in the session as Auger banked the puck on the side boards and sent Jamie Driedger on a partial break who drove hard to the net, cut right and sild the go ahead marker past Dupuis to make it 2-1.

Brad Thrower had a breakaway of his own for Thunder Bay with just over a minute left in the second, but was denied by Lenko.

English River then came right back after that and went up by two as Di Lullo stuffed in the rebound off an Austin Kuhn shot at 19:17.

The frantic-finish to the frame saw the North Stars pull back to within one, moments later, as Jake Robinson beat Lenko from the left circle off a Newhouse shot.

Thunder Bay then struck right off the face-off to begin the third with Avery Siau supplying the quick equalizer.

The North Stars then got a fortunate bounce off a Ryan Walsh shot that was going wide redirected right to an open Nicholas Nigro in the slot who didn’t hesitate a one-timed the go ahead goal past Lenko at 5:27.

The Miners forced extra time with 1:09 left in regulation shortly after they had pulled Lenko in favour of an extra attacker with Raposo jamming in the tying tally following a goalmouth scramble.

Heading into OT it was English River that prevailed late in the extra session following a Rapaso wrap around the boards that came to Terix Fischer-Kobes at the right point who fired it towards the net where a waiting Di Lullo had a couple of cracks at it before jamming it the game-winner to end it and put the Miners on the cusp of their first-ever Bill Salonen Cup finals appearance.

Lenko picked up the victory making 40 stops while Dupuis faced 49 attempts in defeat for Thunder Bay.

The winner of this series will take on the Dryden GM Ice Dogs in the league championship series.

SIJHL semifinal (Series C)
No. 2 Thunder Bay North Stars vs. No. 3 English River Miners
English River leads best-of-seven series 3-1
Game 1: English River 5 Thunder Bay 3
Game 2: Thunder Bay 9 English River 2
Game 3: English River 5 Thunder Bay 2
Game 4: English River 5 Thunder Bay 4 (OT)
Game 5: Saturday, April 8 @ Thunder Bay 7:30 p.m. (Fort William Gardens)
Game 6*: Monday, April 10 @ English River 7:30 p.m. (Cochenour Arena)
Game 7*: Wednesday, April 12 @ Thunder Bay 7:30 p.m. (Fort William Gardens)
*-if necessary