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2014-03-22 at MIDNIGHT

Lakers rebound to capture 1-2 playoff showdown with North Stars

By Leith Dunick,
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The Fort Frances Lakers will have their choice of semifinal opponents.

The Lakers earned that right Friday night on home ice, blanking the Thunder Bay North Stars 3-0 to capture their two-game, total-goal series 6-4.

Both teams had already earned semifinal berths as the top two teams in the Superior International Junior Hockey League during the regular season.

Kyle Lipinski netted what proved to be the winner on the power play at 9:59 of the second. Lucas Debenedet, the league’s leading scorer, made it 2-0 with 2:01 to play in the middle frame. Bryce Lipinski iced it with  20 seconds left in regulation.

Devin Tappenden stopped 25 saves for the shutout in the Lakers net, while Eric Mann, the SIJHL’s top goalie, faced 38 shots for the Stars.

The two teams await the final quarterfinal winner before the match-ups for the next round can be set. Expansion English River and the Dryden Ice Dogs are tied 2-2 in their best-of-seven series, with Game 5 scheduled for Saturday night in Ear Falls.

The Minnesota Iron Rangers clinched the third semifinal berth on Friday night, capping a four-game sweep over the Wisconsin Wilderness with a 6-4 road triumph. T.J. Samec scored the winner with 3:17 to go in the third.

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