Red Lake flows through Superior

May 1, 2022

It was no easy ride. It took the Red Lake Miners six games to sideline the Dryden Ice Dogs and six more to overcome the Kam River Fighting Walleye to become 2022 champions of the Superior International Jr. Hockey League.

Laden with a lineup of veteran players on a time-tested team that was carefully constructed by general manager and coach Geoff Walker, Red Lake won eight of 12 playoff matches, ousting both Dryden and Kam River to stake claim to SIJHL superiority for the 2021-2022 season. The Miners had been to the finals twice previously, losing to the Thunder Bay North Stars in 2019 and to Dryden in 2017.

It was the ability of Red Lake to win on the road in front of big crowds in the enemy territories of Dryden and Kam River that was instrumental in the Miners first championship in a franchise history that began in 2013. Red Lake ran up a 5-1 road record in these playoffs, winning all three games in Dryden and taking two of three in Kam River’s home rink.

To be sure, it was Red Lake’s 20-year old players who led the playoff march. Of the Miners top five scorers on the playoff path, four were last year, overage players led by Ryan Howe (eight goals, 10 assists, 18 points), local lad Jordan Baranesky (8-6-14), Ryan Hunter (4-8-12) and Mathieu Belanger (4-4-8.)

Brady Harroun

Brady Harroun was Red Lake’s other top playoff producer with five goals, three assists, eight points. The 19-year old Harroun, who netted 25 goals, 26 assists, 51 points in 37 regular season games, has the potential to challenge for the league scoring championship if he returns to Red Lake next season for his graduating year of junior hockey.

As for Hunter and Belanger, they both arrived in Red Lake during the season via the trade route. Hunter was acquired from the Cochrane Crunch of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League and Belanger was added from the Summerside Western Capitals of the Maritime Hockey League.

In upending Kam River for the league championship, Red Lake was able to score a 3-2 win on home ice in Game 6 to seal the deal. The Miners won the first three games of the series before the Fighting Walleye showed its teeth by winning the next two.

Kudos to Kam River, which was in its first full season as members of the SIJHL and finished in first place during the regular term, mere percentage points ahead of Red Lake. In an unbalanced season of games, Kam River had an .818 winning percentage from a record of 35-7-2 while Red Lake had a .797 winning percentage via record of 28-6-3.

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