The Fort Frances Lakers’ post-game tradition involves the players blasting music inside their dressing room.
On Friday night, it was the players who were getting blasted.
The displeasure of Lakers’ head coach and general manager Wayne Strachan was made crystal clear to his team via a high-decibel and highly-charged tongue-lashing following a 5-4 loss to the Dryden GM Ice Dogs in Game 2 of the best-of-seven SIJHL final here.
A three-goal surge by the Lakers in the third period, after falling behind 5-1, didn’t mask what Strachan saw as an extreme lack of effort all the night by far too many players.
“We were not ready to play,” Strachan fumed.
“We were selfish the whole game and didn’t play as a team.
“We didn’t adhere to our system and we didn’t want to pay the price tonight,” he added.
“We didn’t get enough shots on net and there wasn’t a lot of crashing the net,” agreed Lakers’ defenceman Sam Schultz.
“Maybe the win [6-2 in Game 1] gave us too much confidence and had us come in cocky tonight,” he mused.
The Lakers coughed up home-ice advantage in a series that’s now tied 1-1, with Games 3 and 4 set for tomorrow and Wednesday night in Dryden.
Game 5 be back here Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Mason Meyer, one of the few Lakers making things happen offensively with a hat trick in Game 2, stressed his team needed to sharpen up in its own zone—and fast.
“You can’t give the other team five goals and expect to win the game,” he reasoned.
“I hope that was the wake-up call that we’ve got to bring it every night, myself included, and play up to our potential,” he stressed.
Meyer had the only goal of the first period before Dryden took over in the second with a four-goal onslaught.
Kyle Pouncy, Cole Golka, Trevor Kavanaugh (power play), and Matt Houston all beat Nathan Park.
When Jonathan Philley made it five-straight Dryden goals 27 seconds into the third, Park was pulled for Pierce Dushenko.
The move seemed to reinvigorate the Lakers as Meyer and Dylan Robertson scored 1:24 apart before the period was five minutes old to give the home fans some hope.
But, in a reversal of Game 1, this time it was Dryden killing off four Laker power-plays in the final stanza, including a double-minor to Golka for high-sticking Dylan Kooner.
The Lakers also got some bad news on the injury front.
Two-time league MVP finalist Lucas DeBenedet revealed that late in Game 1, he re-aggravated the leg injury that cost him the final four games of the semi-final against the Thunder Bay North Stars.
DeBenedet didn’t sound optimistic that he would be back in this series, although nothing is official at this point.
With DeBenedet, Nolan Ross, and Donovan Cousineau on the shelf, Strachan filled the void up front by moving regular defenceman Robbie Bonthron on the wing to play beside Bryson Jasper and Wyatt Cota.
But when Gordon Campbell left the game with an injury after getting rocked in front of the net late in the third period, Bonthron shifted back to his regular position on the blueline.