Lakers extend win streak to 10
With the SIJHL playoffs just around the corner, the Fort Frances Lakers have become the hottest team in the league.
Having won 10-straight games heading into tonight’s contest against the host Dryden Ice Dogs, the Lakers (33-15-1-2) have clinched second place in the standings and will enjoy home-ice advantage for the semi-finals later this month.
“Our lines are starting to get solid and set, and everyone is just rolling along right now,” he noted.
The Lakers’ most recent win was a 5-2 triumph Saturday night over the visiting Ice Dogs.
After giving up a goal late in the first period, the Lakers used their speed to their advantage the rest of the way, netting four unanswered goals to seal the win.
“I think we matched them with our physicality, and using our speed down low really killed them also,” said Jacob Nolan, who had a goal and an assist Saturday night.
“We also made some nice passing plays, especially off of the walls, and that really helped us to get things going.”
Davis Smith also had a goal and an assist against the Ice Dogs while linemate Hunter Leishman chipped in with a pair of helpers.
Alex Bruess, Jon Carlson, and Patrick Sofer were the Lakers’ other goal scorers.
At the other end of the ice, goalie Jameson Shortreed made his first start in a month and turned in a strong performance, stopping 25 shots to earn his first victory since Jan. 18.
“I’m pretty stoked, and it’s always nice to get the win,” enthused Shortreed, who also drew an assist on Nolan’s second-period goal.
“I felt that I was tracking the puck really well, and the guys were helping me out a lot in front of the net so I really didn’t have to make many big saves,” he added.
“It was just a total team
Prior to that tilt, the Lakers turned in one of their strongest performances of the season last Wednesday night in Cloquet, where they snapped the Minnesota Wilderness’ 17-game winning streak with a 4-3 shootout victory.
The lone goal in the shootout came off the stick of Colton Spicer, who made a nice backhand move on Gordy Defiel.
“All of the guys on the bench were joking with me about how I always go with the same move in the shootout, and it just seems to have worked all year,” Spicer reasoned.
“This was a huge win for us, and it shows that the Wilderness aren’t unbeatable if we go in there and play our game,” he stressed.
While Spicer, Carlson, and Jordan Christianson led the way with a goal and an assist each, Talor Joseph was stellar between the pipes, making 48 saves to win his ninth-straight game since joining the Lakers in January.
“He just seems to be making the saves that we need in order to win games right now,” Spicer said of Joseph, who earned the SIJHL’s player-of-the-month award for February earlier this week.
“He’s definitely on his game,” Spicer added.
A night earlier, the Lakers came away with a 5-4 home win over the Ice Dogs, with defenceman Owen Stauber notching the game-winner on a power play late in the third period.
“I was pretty excited about that one,” Stauber smiled.
“We have been practising that backdoor play quite a lot, and I had missed a couple of those chances earlier in the year so I knew that I had to put this one away,” he remarked.
Leading the Lakers that game was the top line of Spicer, Christianson, and Rysavy, who hooked up on four of the team’s five goals.
“I think it comes down to us just clicking out there,” Rysavy reasoned.
“It’s crunch time right now and we have to get our minds set for the playoffs,” he stressed.
“And right now, things just seem to be working out well for us.”
Spicer netted a pair of goals and helped out on two others while Christianson and Rysavy each had a goal and three assists.
Following tonight’s game in Dryden, the Lakers will finish off their regular-season slate with four-straight contests against the Thunder Bay North Stars.
The two squads will play here Friday and Saturday night before travelling to the Fort William Gardens to conclude their campaigns next Monday and Wednesday.
“Hopefully, the games will mean something for them in the standings instead of just two teams playing for nothing,” said Lakers’ head coach and general manager Wayne Strachan.
“In a way, I like that we are playing up until [March 13] as we will only have about nine days off before the playoffs instead of being away from [action] for nearly two weeks.
“I hope that those games are intense, meaningful, and that they don’t get out of hand,” he added.