The Fort Frances Lakers rode a spectacular 62-save performance from goalie Alex Bugeja to a 3-1 win over the expansion Wisconsin Lumberjacks last night at the Spooner Civic Center.
Although they were outshot 18-12 in the first period, it was the Lakers (3-2) who picked up the first three tallies of the game in quick order, connecting in just over a four-minute span to jump out to a 3-0 lead.
Lakers’ captain Noah Loveday opened the scoring at 8:38 as he stuffed one under Lumberjacks’ goalie Nathan Mueller from the top of the crease.
He then struck again just 22 seconds later after taking a feed from the corner into the slot and whipping one into the top right-hand corner to put the visitors up by a pair.
Fort Frances then got a fortunate break to go up by three when MacKenzie Flett snapped an attempt toward the net from the right point that clipped off a Lumberjacks’ defender and sailed high past Mueller and in at 12:54.
From there, the Lumberjacks (0-5-1) continued to pump shots on Bugeja but could not solve him until the late stages of regulation.
On a power play deep into the third, and with Mueller pulled for the extra-attacker, the hosts finally dashed Bugeja’s shutout bid with 1:11 remaining when Joel Matthews snagged the puck off a Fort Frances backhanded clearing attempt and fed Cade Moreland, who came in a wired a shot into the top left portion of the net to put Wisconsin on the board.
The hosts pulled Mueller a couple more times after that, but couldn’t find a way to knot it up.
Flynn Perry assisted on all three Lakers’ tallies in the first period while Jack Lane had a couple of helpers.
Loveday also picked up an assist of his own for a three-point night.
Mueller finished with 31 saves in a losing cause for the Lumberjacks.
The Lakers will resume action tomorrow night when they head to Dryden to battle the GM Ice Dogs (3-1) once again.
Fort Frances then will conclude its three-game road trip on Tuesday (Oct. 8) against the Thief River Falls Norskies (1-2-1) at the Ralph Engelstad Arena.