Lumberjacks Win First Playoff Game in Franchise History

By Tanner Schafer

Spooner, WI – In what might be the first occurrence since the SIJHL was in its inaugural series both the Sioux Lookout Bombers and Wisconsin Lumberjacks have secured their first ever playoff wins in franchise history. Sioux Lookout’s path was pretty straightforward, in game 1 of the series they won the first playoff game they played in. The Lumberjacks however found it a bit more difficult. Wisconsin joined the league the same year that covid came into our lives and canceled the 2020 playoffs. In the 2021 season the Lumberjacks weren’t allowed to play due to the border closings. The 2022 season was a complete rebuild for the Lumberjacks who had no returning players and despite finishing in 5th they were swept by the 4th seeded Thunder Bay North Stars. Now in 2023 they have their first playoff win, a 4-2 effort over the Sioux Lookout bringing the series to a 2-1 deficit. 

It was just the 2nd time the Wisconsin fans were able to see a home playoff game and the Lumberjacks did not disappoint. It was a back and forth 1st period with the Bombers holding a narrow shot edge of 9-8. It was also Sioux Lookout that found the back of the net first. Blake Burke scored his 3rd of the playoffs just shy of the halfway mark to make it 1-0. It was a power play tally assisted by Graeme Patrick and Connor Burke. Nobody else would score and the game would head to the 2nd 1-0 in the favor of the Bombers. 

The 2nd period was an opportunistic one for the Jacks who despite getting outshot found the only 2 goals. Drake Flynn would start the scoring with less than 3 minutes off the clock. His goal was assisted by Zach Johnson and Ryder McMillen. 4 minutes later Brandon McDonald gave Wisconsin its 1st lead with a goal assisted by the McClure brothers, both Connor and Cooper. The rest of the period flew by as there were no penalties assessed. 

The Bombers would make it a game by taking only 49 seconds to score the equalizer in the 3rd. Tegan Nueman scored unassisted and the two teams proceeded to do battle for the remaining 19 minutes. Wisconsin set the tone outshooting Sioux Lookout 16-7 in the frame and it was Wisconsin who found the game winner, Dillon Phillips scored with a 1:14 remaining to give his team the lead. Salvatore Poggiala would score on the empty net and the Lumberjacks secured a 4-2 win.

Kyler Lowden stopped 26 of 28 shots for the win. Jake Manners made 28 saves in a losing effort. The 2 clubs will face off again on Wednesday with Wisconsin looking to even the series at 2 and Sioux Lookout trying to take a 3-1 lead back to the hanger.