By Michael Christianson
The Bill Salonen Cup will be returning to the north.
The SIJHL finals will begin Friday night in Dryden as the Dryden GM Ice Dogs take on the English River Miners.
The Miners defeated the Thunder Bay North Stars in overtime on Saturday to win the series four games to one.
On April 4 Dryden completed their sweep of the Fort Frances Lakers with an overtime goal by captain Derek McPhail.
McPhail said that putting the guys into the next round means a lot to him and he is looking ahead to the final series.
“It will be a tough fought battle, it will be physical, it will be a blood bath I think,” said McPhail. “They like to bang, they have the same style as us, they are hard nosed they’re not going to give us an inch so we have to be prepared to stand up to that and try to overcome it best we can.”
Ice Dogs goaltender Patrick Zubick played all four games of the sweep and saw a Lakers team with their backs against the wall in the tight final game.
“It’s a huge accomplishment for any team to win a series in four games especially with the history Dryden has with Fort, I wasn’t here last year but it was definitely a big motivation to get them out in four games,” said Zubick.
Dryden Ice Dogs president Mike Sveinson felt the same pressure as his team in the Fort Frances series but he says pressure is a privilege, it means you are still in it.
“I think it was fortunate for us to have to go through Fort for two reasons,” said Sveinson. “First of all if you want to be the champ you have to beat the champ and that’s who they were. Secondly from a cathartic point of view, we had a lot of unfinished business with them and I think it felt really good for everybody to get the monkey off our back with resounding fashion.”
Sveinson congratulated English River Miners president Jason Vinet calling him an ally in the SIJHL and he expects a spectacular final series.