Keegan Tiringer scored twice, including the eventual game-winner six-and-a-half minutes into the third period, as the second-place Red Lake Miners pulled out a 3-2 victory over the third-place Thief River Falls Norskies on Monday night in Game 3 of their best-of-seven semi-final playoff series at the Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Red Lake led the best-of-seven series 2-1 heading into Game 4 last night back at “The Ralph,” with the outcome not known as of press time.
A late power play in the first period helped Thief River Falls open the scoring at 18:07 as Mason McMintosh snapped one past Red Lake goalie Zach Willms from the slot, with the assists going to Boe Bjorge and Alec Serverson.
The Miners answered early in the second after Kyle Uzelman forced a turnover and fed Tiringer, who darted in between the circles and wired one top-shelf on Bailey Schmitz in the Norskies' net.
Red Lake tacked on another at 17:09 as Shaye Sommerfeld won a draw back to Sean Gula to the right point, who put one towards the net that was deftly redirected by Sommerfeld as he got enough of the puck to cause it to change direction and slip past Schmitz to make it 2-1 after 40 minutes.
The Miners extended their cushion to two goals in the third with Tiringer connecting once more as he wired one over Schmitz's shoulder from the left side of the net, with help from Bryce Young and Dante Tisi.
Battling back, the Norskies trimmed it to one with 4:47 to go as they pressured Red Lake.
Willms lost his stick, could not control the rebound of a Connor Bowey shot, which allowed Blake Nelson to stuff one in from close range.
The Norskies pulled Schmitz with 1:46 remaining for an extra attacker and pressed for the equalizer as they tried to force overtime, but the Miners held firm the rest of the way to secure the road win.
Thief River Falls held a big edge in shots on goal, holding a 45-25 advantage, but Willms' 43-save effort saw him earn the win while Schmitz suffered the loss.
The Norskies had won the opener with a 5-4 overtime win last Thursday in Red Lake but the Miners fought back with a 5-2 victory of their own the following night at home.
Game 5 is set for Friday night in Red Lake with Game 6 (if necessary) slated for Sunday night in Thief River Falls.
Should the series end up going the distance, Game 7 would go Tuesday night (April 9) back in Red Lake.
All SIJHL playoff games are streamed live online and on demand at HockeyTV.com.