Monday, September 22, 2014

Lakers upset by Wilderness

One team had won seven games in a row and was the fifth-ranked team in the country.
The other had lost 32 in a row and probably was ranked in the bottom five.

And yet, in the words of ESPN broadcasting legend Chris Berman, that is why they play the game.
The Wisconsin Wilderness (2-33) scored four-straight goals to pull off a 4-2 upset of the Fort Frances Lakers (29-4-0-2) on Saturday in Spooner to end the squad’s seemingly endless drought of ineptitude that lasted 111 days.
It was Wisconsin’s first home win of the season—and gave head coach John McCreary his first victory behind the bench after 18-straight losses since taking over for Ian Jensen on Nov. 12.
The only person not surprised was Lakers’ head coach and general manager Wayne Strachan.
“To me it’s not that shocking,” he remarked.
“With our last two games now in the books, I do not think we have been crisp in our play or as intense as we are capable of being.
“They wanted it more,” Strachan added. “They played energized, intense, and in our face all game, and we didn’t respond or pick up our intensity until it was too late.”
It was not the debut hoped for by new Lakers’ goalie Devin Tappendan, who was picked up Friday from the Burlington Cougars of the Ontario Junior Hockey League for a player development fee.
But Strachan, who also officially released goalie Ethan Wood the same day, was not hanging the loss on the 19-year-old from Markham, Ont., who made 36 saves.
“Shortly into the first, [Tappendan] was called upon because of a bad turnover to make a big save on a breakaway, Wisconsin’s first shot of the game,” Strachan said about the 6’5”, 220-pounder, who went 5-11-0-2 with a 4.42 GAA and an .880 save percentage with the Cougars.
“With the goals, and I have discussed the game with him, he felt the first one was on him and I thought he was cheating a bit off his post,” continued Strachan.
“But for the next three, they were all 3-on-1s.
“Now you expect your goalie to come up big for you at times,” Strachan reasoned. “But when you leave him [hanging] out to dry that many times, breakdowns may happen.
“We need to be better to help our goaltending,” he stressed.
“Giving up 40 shots [for the game] and 22 in a period is unacceptable for our team.”
The Lakers went up 1-0 at 3:22 of the first when Mason Meyer netted his 29th of the season during a power play.
But the Wilderness got goals from Shane Billings 1:23 later, and Justin Gregory 1:59 after that, to grab a 2-1 lead.
Alex Rezansoff made it 3-1 at 5:31 of the second before Jake Lobato struck at 10:04 to make it 4-1.
Tanner Fricke’s seventh of the season during another power play at 8:52 of the third was as close as the Lakers could get.
Griffin Strain came up huge between the pipes for Wisconsin, making 42 saves to earn the win .
The Lakers, who have not lost back-to-back games so far this season, will try to keep that streak alive tomorrow night in Thunder Bay against the second-place North Stars (23-6-1-3), who sit 10 points behind the Lakers with two games in hand.

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