RED LAKE, Ont. – Morgan Venne scored three times, including notching a pair late, to lift the Red Lake Miners to a 5-2 victory over the Thief River Falls Norskies Friday evening in Game 2 of their Superior International Junior Hockey League semifinal with a season-best 407 fans on hand at Cochenour Arena.
This means the best-of-seven affair is now knotted at a game apiece as the series shifts to Ralph Engelstad Arena in Thief River Falls for Games 3 & 4, Monday and Tuesday at 7 p.m. CT.
Friday’s tilt saw the Norskies open the scoring before the contest was three minutes old as Boe Bjorge sped down the right wing and put a low one through the legs of Red Lake starter Zach Willms during an early man advantage opportunity.
The Miners answered midway through the first period as Stratton Pickett buried one from the slot to level the proceedings.
It was more from the home side before the session was complete as Keegan Tiringer and Venne connected, 34 seconds apart, on Thief River Falls netminder Bailey Schmitz to put the hosts up by a pair.
The visitors narrowed the gap, late in the middle session, as Alec Serverson blasted one from inside the blueline to give his side their second man advantage effort of the night, which came at 18:56.
It stayed 3-2 Red Lake until the final minute when Venne added some insurance by wiring one home from the slot with the Miners up a skater with 44 seconds to go.
He then capped off his hat trick in the final moments after muscling his way to a puck that bounced off the post from long range on an empty net before he rounded out the scoring by putting his shot into the open cage.
Pickett and Matt Krawiec chipped in with two assists each in the decision.
Willms finished with 34 stops in the win while Schmitz saw 29 attempts put his way in defeat.
All SIJHL playoff contests are streamed live online and on demand at HockeyTV.com.
No. 2 Red Lake Miners vs. No. 3 Thief River Falls Norskies
Best-of-seven series tied 1-1
Game 1: Thief River Falls 5 Red Lake 4 (OT)
Game 2: Red Lake 5 Thief River Falls 2
Game 3: Monday, April 1 @ Thief River Falls 7 p.m. (Ralph Engelstad Arena)
Game 4: Tuesday, April 2 @ Thief River Falls 7 p.m. (Ralph Engelstad Arena)
Game 5: Friday, April 5 @ Red Lake 7:30 p.m. (Cochenour Arena)
Game 6*: Sunday, April 7 @ Thief River Falls 7 p.m. (Ralph Engelstad Arena)
Game 7*: Tuesday, April 9 @ Red Lake 7:30 p.m. (Cochenour Arena)
Photo credit: Patrick Boucha