Lumberjacks open road trip with OT decision over Lakers

FORT FRANCES, Ont. – A Cameron Birkeland marker 55 seconds into overtime lifted the Wisconsin Lumberjacks to a narrow 4-3 victory over the Fort Frances Lakers in Superior International Junior Hockey League action Tuesday night at Ice for Kids Arena.

The visiting Lumberjacks were also the first to strike offensively in the match-up as Cade Moreland collected his seventh of the season, just past the seven-and-a-half-minute mark of the opening frame.

Wisconsin then went up by a pair at 14:12 when Ryley Cardinal collected his third.

Answering back, Fort Frances got themselves on the board before the first was complete as captain Noah Loveday notched his team-leading 15th.

In the middle session, the Lumberjacks restored their two-tally cushion early on as Jack Jones lifted a high-rising attempt from the right point that sailed into the top left corner.

Drawing closer once more, the Lakers made it a 3-2 game at 18:22 of the session when Ben Hoefler finished off a rebound off a nice Cooper Witherspoon rush.

Moving on to the third, the hosts came back to force extra time when Kyle Uzelman snapped a shot into the top right shelf at 5:36 as he knotted the affair.

Early in OT, Birkeland came off the bench on a line change where he took a Joel Matthews cross-ice feed and fired a low attempt that found its way through Fort Frances netminder Dean Buchholz and slid into the goal for the game-winner.

Matthews finished with two assists on the night while Wisconsin starter Hunter Adams made 34 saves to record his first SIJHL win.

Buchholz finished with 35 stops in defeat in helping Fort Frances earn a point despite the setback.

Wisconsin continues their two-game road trip Wednesday night in Dryden while Fort Frances heads to Thief River Falls Thursday in a make-up contest for one that was previously postponed due to inclement weather.

Photo credit: Clint Bruyere