Boaz hero for Lakers

Dan Falloon

It’s a game Blake Boaz likely won’t forget anytime soon.
The Fort Frances Lakers’ forward scored the tying goal to force overtime, then notched the shootout winner as the hosts edged the first-place Wisconsin Wilderness 4-3 here Tuesday night.
With the Lakers trailing 3-2 after coughing up a 2-0 lead, Boaz picked up the puck at his own blueline, beat one Wilderness defender, and then deked out goalie Jake Hebda.
Boaz’s third goal of the season came with just 4:18 left in the third period.
After overtime solved nothing and with the shootout tied 1-1 after goals from Wisconsin’s Wilson Housley and Fort Frances’ Jace Baldwin, Boaz skated to Hebda’s right, cut back across the ice, and fired the puck past the out-of-position goalie to seal the win.
“It feels good. I’ve been struggling to find the back of the net all year,” Boaz admitted.
“It was a gutsy effort on Boazy’s part to tie the game, and it was a good character win to gut one out in the shootout,” enthused Lakers’ head coach Wayne Strachan.
The other star of Tuesday’s game was goalie Tyler Ampe, who made some key saves—32 overall—despite battling a nagging injury.
None was bigger than Ampe’s glove save on Austin Adduono in overtime.
With the Wilderness on a 4-on-3 power-play, Adduono took a feed. Despite putting his initial attempt into the side of the net, his second chance still was a glorious one to Ampe’s left.
But Ampe slid post to post and snared the puck in his glove.
“I just never gave up,” said Ampe. “If you see the greatest saves on TSN, they’re all because the goalie didn’t give up.”
The Lakers (12-6-1) certainly would have liked to have wrapped the game up before extra time.
Davis Smith’s third of the season off of a frantic scramble gave the home squad a 1-0 lead just 5:22 into the game.
That tally, along with an increase in physical play, helped to quell a Wilderness team (12-2-2) that came out galloping in the opening minutes.
Tyler Stevenson’s 20th of the year made it 2-0 at 8:33 of the second.
The captain took a cross-crease feed from Baldwin and made no mistake, burying the puck into the open cage for his league-leading 14th power-play goal.
Wisconsin came out blazing in the third, though, testing Ampe on the power-play.
The goalie made two fine saves— first on a 2-on-1 and then a wrister from the slot. But then Adduono wasn’t contained on a rebound attempt and buried one 38 seconds into the frame.
Four minutes later, Bryce Anderson’s shot beat a screened Ampe to knot the game at 2-2.
Then at 13:23, Wilderness captain Keith Tessin converted a rebound set up by a giveaway in the Lakers’ zone to put the visitors up 3-2—setting the stage for Boaz’s heroics.
Forward Rian Allison saw his first game with the Lakers after being picked up as a free agent.
The 19-year-old had no points and 14 penalty minutes with the MJHL’s Neepawa Natives before being released Oct. 22.
The Lakers have a pair of road games this weekend, facing the Flyers in Sioux Lookout on Friday night before a rematch with the Wilderness in Spooner on Saturday.
The squad’s next home action is on Tuesday (Nov. 16) at 7:30 p.m. versus the Flyers.
In related news, Lakers’ goalie Jameson Shortreed did not see action again as Canada West (1-0-1) defeated Russia (0-2) 4-2 in the World Junior ‘A’ championships being held in Penticton, B.C.
Matthew Krahn made 28 saves for the win.
Canada West moves on to play Sweden in one quarter-final tonight while Canada East will take on Russia.
The semi-finals are slated for Saturday, with the gold- and bronze-medal games going Sunday.