Lakers face must-win
WELLINGTON— In 120 minutes of play at the Dudley Hewitt Cup, the Fort Frances Lakers are a converted breakaway and missed call from having a completely different outlook.
But the harsh reality for Lakers’ coach Wayne Strachan is that his team faces a must-win game this afternoon to keep their season alive.
But despite outplaying the host Dukes for much of the first period, the Lakers ultimately lost 3-0 to drop to 0-2 at the four-team showdown.
Fort Frances must beat the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners (0-2) in their final round-robin game this afternoon in order to advance to the semi-final showdown tomorrow.
“I think we came out and had a much better start, and we created a lot of good chances in the first,” Strachan said of last night’s game against Wellington.
Lyndon Lipinksi almost snuck one home off a rebound at the eight-minute mark that could have changed the complexion of the contest.
“Throughout the game, we had much more intensity and much better play, we just need to shore up some areas,” Strachan noted.
“We are making soft turnovers that really aren’t characteristic of our game and we need forwards back to help our back end,” he stressed.
Case in point was the game’s first goal as Wellington’s Andrew McCann scored on an odd-man rush at 6:59 of the second.
McCann’s quick shot beat Lakers’ goalie Jordan Cartney on the short side.
And while the Calgary native might have wanted it back, he otherwise was stellar between the pipes—kicking out several sure Wellington goals prior.
“He’s been our best player in both games,” Strachan said of Cartney.
“That goal, sure, we would have liked a stop but there was a neutral zone turnover that led to the odd man rush,” he noted.
“We can’t say enough about Jordan,” Strachan added.
“He’s rose to the occasion, played well, and tried to give us a chance to fight back.”
Down 1-0 after 40 minutes, the Lakers pressed in the third and had a glorious chance when Kevin Kurm arrived in the slot with the puck on his stick and Wellington goalie Tyson Teichmann at his mercy.
But Kurm got hauled down with no call. Then minutes later, Mike Robinson’s screen shot beat Cartney to give the Dukes a 2-0 lead.
Wellington tacked on another goal late in the frame when Joe McKeown took a loose puck, beat a Lakers’ defenceman, and lifted the puck over a sprawling Cartney to ice the win.
After the game, Strachan said the Lakers would need to do some soul-searching prior to facing the Gold Miners today.
“We talked about both those things,” Strachan said.
“Hopefully, the boys will have ice baths to rejuvenate the muscles and think about if they want to play their last game of the season.”
The Dukes and Patriots will wrap up round-robin play tonight, with the winner advancing to Saturday’s final.
The loser will meet the winner of the Lakers-Gold Miners showdown in tomorrow’s semi-final.