THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn. – The Red Lake Miners saw their captain Michael Di Lullo score three times and add an assist while goaltender Zach Willms turned in a solid a 40-save performance in a 5-2 victory over the Thief River Falls Norskies in a Superior International Junior Hockey League encounter Friday night at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Red Lake started strong and grabbed a 2-0 lead early on markers from Di Lullo and Matt Krawiec to chase Norskies starter Bailey Schmitz in favour of back-up Fletcher Bolda.
The goaltending change gave Thief River Falls a spark as they countered by scoring 21 seconds later on Brett Piper’s 27th goal of the season.
Each side would connect once in the middle stanza with Blake Nelson tying it for the home side at 11:15, only to see Kyle Uzelman collect the eventual game-winner for the visitors four minutes later.
The Miners’ Di Lullo then helped secure the win by striking twice in the final frame, including one in an empty net, to register his first SIJHL hat trick since October 27, 2016 in a decision over Minnesota.
Bolda suffered the loss in relief for the Norskies allowing two against on 27 shots while Schmitz stopped 10 of 12 in under 12 minutes of work.
The two clubs will meet again Saturday at 7 p.m. back at The Ralph.
Photo credit: Tim Benton