Lakers tripped up by Miners
These are not your father’s English River Miners—or even your older brother’s.
The expansion team won its first game in four tries against the Fort Frances Lakers on Tuesday in Ear Falls—a 4-3 victory over the sixth-ranked squad in the country in one of the SIJHL’s more jaw-dropping outcomes so far this season.
“Goaltending, they capitalized on four of our glaring mistakes, and they had 20 guys working for the victory,” he cited.
“We, on the other hand, had maybe half of our 18 [players] dressed working hard,” Strachan added.
“We out-played them and out-chanced them, but didn’t have enough guys paying the price to get it done.”
English River (12-13-2) entered the game in fifth place in the SIJHL—22 points behind the first-place Lakers (22-3-0-2), who lost their second game in regulation in their last three outings after having only lost one before overtime in the first 24 games of the season.
But the improved Miners, who fell 12-2 here in the teams’ second game of the year, now have won eight of their past 11 games and trail the fourth-place Dryden Ice Dogs (13-15-2) by just two points, with three games in hand.
English River sent an early message that things would be different on this night as Chris Hrabec beat Ryan Ferguson just 1:35 into the game.
Lucas DeBenedet drew the Lakers even at 5:30 before Vincent Currao connected at 8:31 to make it 2-1 for the hosts.
Mason Meyer again evened the score at 13:41 with his 19th of the campaign.
In the second, Paul Lamoureaux netted the lone goal of the frame at 5:26 to give English River its third lead of the night.
He then scored at 3:22 of the third for what proved to be an important insurance goal.
DeBenedet came through with his third point of the game, and his league-best 26th goal of the season, only 37 seconds later to cut the deficit to one.
But P.D. Melgoza was the difference the rest of the way as the Miners’ goalie finished the night with 38 saves to cement the victory.
Ferguson, in his second-consecutive start, made 24 saves for the Lakers.
Fort Frances played without defencemen Kyle Lipinski, who served a one-game suspension after receiving a game misconduct with less than 10 minutes to play in the third period of the Lakers’ 6-2 win over the Wisconsin Wilderness on Saturday.
Also watching from the stands were the injured trio of forwards Donovan Cousineau (knee) and Colton Spicer (upper body), along with defenceman Brandon Sinclair (lower-body).
Goalie Ethan Wood also remained absent from the team after leaving before last weekend to attend a family funeral.
“At this point, your guess is as good as mine with Ethan,” Strachan said.
“He has told me the last three days he is coming back,” Strachan noted. “Yet I have no flight plan from him or what day [he will be back].
“It’s beginning to get a bit frustrating as we have shown him we want him here, yet we have not seen the same commitment in return.”
The two teams will finish their home-and-home series tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena.
The Lakers also will hold a toy drive during the game, with donations going to the local Salvation Army and United Native Friendship Centre.