Weekend warriors: Flyers take Superior tourney with 4-1 win over Ice Hawks

SUPERIOR, Wis. — This past weekend, the Portage Lake Flyers 12U team, sponsored by Pat’s Foods, took part in a Pee Wee A Tournament. After cruising to a 7-0 win over Hermantown and fighting back to top Superior, the Flyers earned a spot in the finals by downing Duluth East. Facing a very good Stevens Point team, the Flyers a way to break open a 1-1 game and go on to earn a 4-1 victory.

The tournament win was the Flyers’ second of the season.

The Stevens Point Ice Hawks came into the championship game having improved to 24-4-1 on the season.

The Flyers took the lead with 3:22 left in the first period thanks to a goal from Conner Raffaelli. Jace DeForge picked up the lone assist.

“After being dominated most of the first period, we scored late in the period to settle us down,” said Flyers coach Ryan DeForge. “(We) really took over the game from there.”

Brit Heinonen got the ball rolling for the Flyers in the middle frame, scoring with 9:50 remaining. Heinonen battle through illness to be a big part of what the Flyers achieved on the weekend.

“Brit Heinonen played a handful of shifts each game all weekend,” said Ryan DeForge. “Everyone felt for him as he wanted to be out there, but just didn’t have enough energy. He ended up scoring a huge second goals in the finals.”

The Flyers then took advantage of a power play and Ian Nordstrom was able to extend Portage Lake’s lead to two, 3-1, with 5:31 left. Jace DeForge again picked up an assist on the goal.

With players like Brit Heinonen struggling through illness and missing the services of Addison Hembroff, who was too sick to even make the trip, Coach DeForge was really pleased with how hard his team played.

“The coaches could not have asked for a better effort,” Ryan DeForge said. “We had kids not 100 percent and one missing due to illness.”

In the third, Jace DeForge capped a three-point effort with a shorthanded goal with 5:36 left in regulation, putting the score out of reach for the Ice Hawks.

The Ice Hawks did pick up a goal with 4:04 left in the contest, but Bryant Lee stood tall for the rest of the contest. Lee stopped 16 of the 17 shots he faced in the third, and 27 of the 28 he saw in the game.

By comparison, the Flyers only managed 16 shots on goal.

The Flyers opened their tournament with a shutout of Hermantown. The Flyers had two players, Raffaelli and Jace DeForge each score twice in the contest. Raffaelli also added three assists.

Brit Heinonen, Bryce Hanner and Kailob Bianco also scored for Portage Lake.

Andrew Lampinen earned the win.

Against the Superior Spartans in their first game Saturday, the Flyers and Spartan went scoreless until the Spartans struck with 54 seconds left in the opening frame.

Needing a response, the Flyers got it from Heinonen, who found the net just 11 seconds later off a feed from Jace DeForge.

The Spartans regained the lead with just 1:54 left in the middle frame, setting up a key third period rally by the Flyers.

Portage Lake struck twice in 23 seconds to do just that. Cannon Mayo got the first with 7:32 left in regulation. Mayo’s unassisted effort was followed up by a tally from Matthew Guilbault with 7:09 left. Bianco picked up an assist on Guilbault’s goal.

Lee held on for the win.

In the semifinal contest against Duluth East, the Flyers struck twice in the first period.

Bianco struck first with 4:52 left in the period. Zach Geborkoff added an assist on the play.

Jace DeForge extended the Flyers’ lead with 39 seconds left the first. Liam Pomroy and Hanner both picked up assists.

The Flyers added two more goals in the middle frame, the first from Bianco with 14:41 and the other from Raffaelli with 6:53 to go. Pomroy picked up an assist on Bianco’s second goal of the night and Brit and Max Heinonen both had assists on Raffaelli’s goal.

Duluth broke through with late second period-goal and then another in the first half of the third, making things interesting.

Raffaelli struck for the second time with 5:27 left off a feed from Guilbault to put the Flyers up 5-2, but Duluth struck again with 1:52 remaining to pull back within two, 5-3.

Brit Heinonen added an insurance goal with just 17 seconds left. Mayo had the lone assist.

Duluth then scored just six seconds later to bring the score to 6-4.

Lampinen earned his second win of the tournament in the game.


Pat’s Foods is now 27-6-3 on the season after winning all four games this past weekend.