Lakers facing ‘big games’ ahead

Jamie Mountain

There are ups and downs to every hockey season, with the Fort Frances Lakers having experienced the latter recently.
The squad is in the midst of a three-game losing skid after dropping a pair of games over the weekend.
The Thief River Falls Norskies used a big third period to earn a 4-1 win over Lakers on Saturday night at the Ralph Engelstad Arena while the top-ranked Thunder Bay North Stars rallied to pull out a wild 6-4 victory here the previous night.
The fourth-place Lakers (5-7-0-0) will look to get back on track tonight when they head back to Thief River Falls for another battle with the Norskies.
Then they’ll cap the week with a pair of home games–the first coming Friday night when they host the last-place Minnesota Iron Rangers (2-12-0-0) before welcoming the fifth-place Norskies (4-6-2-0) the following night.
Both games are 7:30 p.m. starts.
“They definitely will be key games,” said Lakers’ head coach/general manager Wayne Strachan.
“We’re going to need to take care of ourselves, get lots of rest, and we’ll see if we’ll make any lineup changes but these are big games.
“These are teams behind us and we need to keep them behind us,” he stressed. “So we just need to continue to do what we’ve been doing through the last three hockey games and continue to shore up and think about those little things defensively.
“But we’ve had good energy and, for the most part, we’ve stuck to the game plan, been disciplined,” Strachan added.
“But some of the penalties we’ve taken have cost us at times.
“But all in all, I think our game is going on the upward and we just need to continue to grow each day and get better,” he said.
The Norskies (4-6-2-0) broke open a tie game with a trio of third-period tallies to beat the Lakers on Saturday night before an SIJHL season-high 2,067 fans at the Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Fort Frances got on the board first as defenceman Colton Bodnar connected late in the opening frame.
Alec Daman drew the Norskies even with the lone marker of the second period, which came at 6:50.
Daman then added another four-and-half-minutes into the third, which proved to be the eventual game-winner.
Nick Harder added some insurance for Thief River Falls at 17:30 before Mason McIntosh iced it with an empty-netter with 34 seconds to go.
Both Daman and McIntosh finished with three-point nights for the Norskies.
Shots on goal favoured the Norskies by a 32-28 margin, with Bailey Schmitz picking up the win and Matt Booth suffering the loss.
On Friday night, the first-place North Stars (10-1-1) used a five-goal third period to rally