Under the gun: Ice Dogs trailing games as semi-final series heads back to Dryden

Dryden Ice Dogs’ goaltender Dean Shepherdson is struggling to tighten up his playoff goals against average (3.46) in the face of some of the SIJHL’s leading playmakers in the semi-final series against Fort Frances. Photo by Chris Marchand

By Chris Marchand

The Dryden Ice Dogs are looking for the magic of home ice and a supportive crowd to help them reverse their fortunes in a semi-final series that finds them trailing by two games to the Fort Frances Lakers.

Ice Dogs Head Coach Joe West says there’s reason to be hopeful yet as the Dryden club didn’t deliver the kind of performance they have already shown in the playoffs.

“The first game we gave up a lot of goals in the third period — it was a 2-1 game until the third period,” said West on Monday. “We came out on Saturday and had a bit of an unlucky goal. But we played them pretty tough and we didn’t even bring our best stuff. If we had played to our potential and lost both games, there would be more to worry about. We have to believe in ourselves because if we can play our best, I think we can turn it around.”

On Friday night in Fort Frances, the Lakers’ top line including Byron Katapaytuk, Jordan Christianson and Ryan Wildman hammered Ice Dogs goaltender Dean Shepherdson with shots on goal — the trio accounting for three of seven goals on 38 shots.

The Dogs’ sharp line of Ryan Lobreau, Diego Breckenridge and Jesse Linner tried to keep pace, scoring twice, though the Dogs couldn’t match the scoring depth of the Lakers who snuck four more past Shepherson among their ranks. Fort Frances Lakers goaltender Tyler Ampe stopped 31 of 33 shots nearly half of which arrived in the first period alone.

The powerplay has not played a significant factor for either team in the series thus far with the Ice Dogs 0-7 and the Lakers scoring twice on seven man advantages.

Saturday saw the Ice Dogs tighten their defence, matching the Lakers shot for shot. Down by three goals, the Ice Dogs poured on the offence in the third period, hammering Ampe with 14 shots on goal. Tyler Brueggeman and Cole Sonstebo teamed up for a pair of goals with Thomas Greene helping on the second goal.

The results of Tuesday’s Game 3 match-up at Dryden Memorial Arena was not available at press time.

Game 4 will take place on Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.at Dryden Memorial Arena.

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