SIJHL playoff preview: English River Miners vs. Fort Frances Lakers

THUNDER BAY, Ont. – The Superior International Junior Hockey League’s second opening round, quarter-final series, between the No. 4 English River Miners and No. 5 Fort Frances Lakers is set to begin Wednesday night at Cochenour Arena in Red Lake.

Here’s a preview of this best-of-five affair.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: The Miners and Lakers squared off 10 times during the course of the regular season with English River taking the season set with seven victories against three defeats.

THE SEASON: English River finished fourth in the SIJHL standings in 2017-18 with a 28-23-1-4 record while Fort Frances was fifth at 15-32-3-6.

LAST TIME: The two teams last met in postseason play back during the 2016 campaign.

There the Lakers swept the Miners in four straight en route to their third consecutive Bill Salonen Cup title.

They also squared off in the 2014 playoffs, where Fort Frances won again in four games in semifinal action.

POINT PRODUCERS: Leading the Miners offensively was first-year forward Jacob Siebenga.

The 18-year-old Surrey, B.C., product produced 52 points, in just 39 games, which tied him for 11th in SIJHL scoring.

His totals also topped all rookies in league play with his 20 tallies and 32 assists.

Next on the squad was another English River rookie, Spencer Milne.

Milne scored 18 times and doled out 29 helpers for 47 points. That tied him for 15th in SIJHL offensive numbers.

On the back-end, Kyle Rosolowski led all Miners’ rearguards in points with 36.

Joining him in the Top 10 among SIJHL D-men were Terix Fischer-Kobes and Brody Jennings with 30 and 28 points.

Leading the Lakers in scoring was yet another rookie in Nick Lucas.

He had 19 goals and 26 assists along the way in 53 outings for 45 points.

Jaedin Ness was next on the squad with 42 points while Adam Withers was a point-per-game performer for Fort Frances with 40 in just 35 contests.

Charlie Wilkie and Dustin Roitelman were one-two respectively in points among Lakers’ defencemen with 17 and 16 respectively.

GOALKEEPERS: Michael Lenko saw the bulk of the work in net for the Miners as he posted an 18-13-1-3 overall record along with a 3.08 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage.

Lenko’s win total was third highest in the league while playing the most minutes of any SIJHL goalkeeper at 2,123.

His 1,144 saves were the second-most in the league.

Westin Cardwell had a 10-7-0-1 record for the Miners.

Ismael Ralsten saw the majority of time between the pipes for the Lakers down the stretch.

He wrapped up the regular season with a 6-13-2-3 record and a 3.75 GAA and .99 save mark.

MINERS’ NUGGETS: English River finished fourth in the SIJHL in goals scored with 188. … They were also fourth in goals allowed at 209. … As the home team they boasted an 18-8-1-1 record and were 10-15-0-3 as the visitor. … Kyle Rosolowski was second among SIJHL defencemen in power play assists with 17 and extra man points with 21. … Ethan Wong joined Siebenga and Milne in the Top 10 in league rookie scoring as he was seventh with 36 points. … Siebenga and Milne were one-two respectively in rookie assists with 34 and 29. … Milne topped all rookies with eight power play goals and boasted the most power play points with 18. … Sam Cirone’s 10 goals tied him for third among league D-men. … Brody Jennings tied for first in power play goals among defencemen with five. … When scoring first in a game, the Miners went 16-3-0-3. … Specials teams saw the club finish third overall on the power play at 20.6% as they scored 56 times in 272 chances. … The squad ended up fourth on the penalty kill at 77.9% allowing 56 against in 253 times short and scored four times shorthanded. … They also allowed 10 shorthanded tallies against. … When leading after one period the Miners were 14-2-0-2 and 19-0-0-4 when up after 40 minutes. … English River was 9-2-1-4 in one-goal games. … Miners’ head coach and general manager Derek Sweet-Coulter was an assistant coach for Canada West who won the gold medal at the World Jr. A Challenge in Truro, N.S., this past December.

LAKERS’ LOG: Fort Frances was fifth in both goals scored with 172 and allowed at 241. … The Lakers were just 7-15-2-4 as the home team this season and went 8-17-1-2 as the visitors. … Nick Lucas was fifth in SIJHL rookie scoring with 45 points. … He was fourth in first-year assists at 19. … Lucas also ended up tied for second in rookie power play markers with six. … Fort Frances was 12-9-1-4 when scoring first in games this season. … The club was fifth in the league while on the man advantage at 14.8% as they picked up 34 power play markers in 229 chances, but gave up a league-high 13 shorthanded goals. … They were sixth however on the penalty kill at 74% as opponents connected 50 times in 192 chances. They did have seven shorthanded goals. … Fort Frances was a solid 12-2-0-3 when leading after one period of play. … When up after the second stanza the club was 15-3-0-2. … Lakers bench boss Wayne Strachan is the winningest coach in SIJHL history. … Strachan has also led Fort Frances to three Bill Salonen Cup titles.

SIJHL Playoffs

Series B
Quarter-final series
No. 4 English River Miners vs. No. 5 Fort Frances Lakers
Best-of-five series
Game 1: Wednesday, March 21 @ English River 7:30 p.m. (Cochenour Arena)
Game 2: Thursday, March 22 @ English River 7:30 p.m. (Cochenour Arena)
Game 3: Saturday, March 24 @ Fort Frances 7:30 p.m. (Ice for Kids Arena)
Game 4*: Monday, March 26 @ Fort Frances 7:30 p.m. (Ice for Kids Arena)
Game 5*: Wednesday, March 28 @ English River 7:30 p.m. (Cochenour Arena)
*- if necessary