THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn. – The Thief River Falls Norskies needed a trio of third period tallies, including a late power play marker, to help them pull out a 5-2 victory over a resilient Minnesota Iron Rangers side in Game 2 of their Superior International Junior Hockey League quarter-final series Thursday night Ralph Engelstad Arena.
With the result, Thief River Falls now leads the best-of-five match-up 2-0 heading into Game 3 Saturday night at 7 p.m. at Hoyt Lakes Arena.
After being humbled in the series opener Wednesday, the Iron Rangers came out in this one and skated to a 1-0 lead after one period of play as Garrett Wojcicki and Erik Engdahl combined to set-up Joe Lech midway through the session.
The Norskies came back to tie it six and a half minutes into the middle stanza on Hunter Bjorge’s first SIJHL playoff goal.
They then went in front in the back half of the second thanks to Bryce Johnson.
Heading into the third, Thief River Falls struck early as Boe Bjorge popped in the eventual game-winner 58 seconds in.
Battling back, Minnesota cut into the deficit on the next shift when the Engdahl, Lech, Wojiciki trio connected again with Engdahl notching his first postseason goal at 1:41.
The home side added some insurance at 13:49 compliments of Riley Berglund before Alec Severson connected during a late power play in the final seconds to secure the victory.
Brett Piper, Bryce Johnson and Boe Bjorge all chipped in with two assists in the triumph for the hosts.
Bailey Schmitz faced 13 shots in the win for TRF while Iron Rangers’ starter Nick Corneliusen made 43 stops in defeat.
No. 3 Thief River Falls Norskies vs. No. 6 Minnesota Iron Rangers
Thief River Falls leads best-of-five series 2-0
Game 1: Thief River Falls 12 Minnesota 0
Game 2: Thief River Falls 5 Minnesota 2
Game 3: Saturday, March 23 @ Minnesota 7 p.m. (Hoyt Lakes Arena)
Game 4*: Sunday, March 24 @ Minnesota 7 p.m. (Hoyt Lakes Arena)
Game 5*: Tuesday, March 26 @ Thief River Falls 7 p.m. (Ralph Engelstad Arena)
Photo credit: Tim Benton