SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. - If the Soo Eagles, the North Division's top-seeded squad in the North American Hockey League playoffs, thought that they were going to make easy work of the Jamestown Ironmen this week, well, they were wrong.
Continued brilliance between the pipes by netminder Joe Ballmer and a timely goal by Elliot Tisdale at the 6:27 mark of the second period propelled the second-seeded Ironmen past the Eagles, 1-0, in Game 2 of the North Division finals on Saturday.
Jamestown, which had enjoyed limited success against the Eagles during the regular season (the Ironmen won just two of the pair's eight contests), now holds a 2-0 advantage in the best-of-five series, and with a victory on Thursday can clinch a berth in the upcoming Robertson Cup Championship.
Goaltender Joe Ballmer, seen in this file photo, has helped lift the Jamestown Ironmen to within one game of the Robertson Cup Championship.
P-J photo by Scott Reagle
Tisdale's tally, which was assisted by teammates Victor Johansson and Brett Szajner, was his first of the playoffs.
Jamestown has now won five straight since April 12, and is the lone squad that has yet to suffer a playoff defeat.
Ballmer, who owns a 1.20 goals-against average and an impressive .963 save percentage in 300 postseason minutes, stopped 34 shots for the Ironmen to preserve the shutout, and has allowed only six goals in five games thus far.
The Kalamazoo, Mich., native earned first-star honors for the performance.
Jamestown can pull off the upset on Thursday when it hosts the Eagles in Game 3 at the Jamestown Savings Bank Ice Arena. The puck drops at 7 p.m.