By Michael Christianson
After going undefeated in the playoffs sweeping both the Fort Frances Lakers and the English River Miners the Dryden GM Ice Dogs are Bill Salonen Cup Superior International Junior Hockey League champions.
The Ice Dogs finished their post-season Thursday night at the Cochenour arena in front of many of their fans that made the trek to see them lift the cup.
The final contest saw English River’s Austin Kuhn strike first less then a minute into the game.
Nic Nosworthy tied the game and Braedan Allkins added another to put the Dogs up.
Towards the end of the first period Dante Raposo tied the game back up for the Miners but Allkins added another to leave the period at 3-2.
A hard fought second period saw a lone goal from Derek McPhail with less than 3 minutes left in the second.
In the third English River got the early jump 37 seconds in but Dryden answered back 14 seconds later with a goal from Matt Leniuk.
From there it was the Ice Dogs night scoring another from Cory Dennis and an empty net goal from Noseworthy to claim the SIJHL title.
The boys charged the ice in celebration, all their hours of hard work and dedication paying off and capping off an amazing season.
First came the naming of the SIJHL CCM Hockey playoff MVP with the award going to Allkins. Allkins, who also claimed the SIJHL’s MVP title during the regular season, led all league playoff performers in points with 15 in eight games, notching a league-best eight goals along with seven assists.
Allkins got his name on the score sheet in all eight Dryden GM Ice Dogs’ postseason contests and also supplied two game-winning tallies.
“It’s amazing, I’m so happy right now, for the town, for our team, we worked so hard to get here and to finally get it finished and move onto the Dudley it’s huge,” said Allkins.
After shaking hands and all the formalities captain Derek McPhail hoisted the Bill Salonen Cup over his head and skated it over to his team.
“I’ve been here for five years so I can’t say anything but I’m pretty much speechless, this is just like a dream come true you know?” said McPhail. “The Miners they fought hard, I know it was only four games but they didn’t give us an inch, they battled right to the final buzzer and props to them, hats off, yea it was a good series.”
Goaltender Patrick Zubick was in net for all eight playoff games and the net minder was happy to see it all come together.
“Nice to see everything come to fruition at the end here and finally bring Bill home for the town and the organization,” said Zubick after his win.
As coach Kurt Walsten watched his team celebrating he reflected on what it means for his boys and he is ready to get them back to work as they prepare for the Dudley Hewitt Cup in Trenton, Ontario.
“Everything we do here we do for our guys, so for us to do what we did this year, because of that some of our guys are going to get some good schools now,” said Walsten. “Last two years we’ve been on the other end of this, when you’re on the other end it hurts a month from now, what you should have done or what you could have done. It’s not over, I’m not happy just winning this, we want to go down to the Dudley and represent the league the right way but for tonight and the weekend let these guys enjoy it, they earned it.”
Before the Dryden GM Ice Dogs head south they will be hosting a community celebration on Wednesday, April 26 from 4:30 p.m. until 6 p.m. at the Dryden Memorial Arena. The public will have the opportunity to have their picture taken with the entire team and the Cup for a donation to the Road to Dudley fundraising campaign.
Down at the Dudley the Ice Dogs will join the Powassan Voodoos (NOJHL), Georgetown Raiders (OJHL) and the Trenton Golden Hawks (Host-OJHL).
The Ice Dogs open the Central Canadian Junior Hockey championship Tuesday, May 2nd at 1:30 p.m. central time against Georgetown.