Lakers back in top 20


A weekend sweep has bumped the Fort Frances Lakers back into the CJHL’s top 20 teams in Canada.
The Lakers (19-8-1) won 6-3 over host Sioux Lookout (5-20-3) on Friday night before earning a 6-2 victory against Thunder Bay (17-11-1) here Saturday to re-join the list at #19.
The Lakers got on the board first in Sioux Lookout on Blake Boaz’s fourth of the year at 5:08.
But the Flyers showed some gusto, getting a power-play goal from Darnell Ferland and then a short-handed marker from Brendan Wertanen 3:17 apart midway through the first frame to grab the lead.
Fort Frances charged back in the second, though. Byron Katapaytuk tallied just 58 seconds in before Morgan McNeill pounded home his first of the season at 2:34 to put the Lakers back in front.
The Lakers then outshoot their hosts 24-3 in the third period to ice the victory.
Marty McFadden got things started, netting home his third on the power play at 5:44.
Katapaytuk then notched power-play goals at 9:54 and 19:26 as the Lakers went four-for-seven with the man-advantage.
Wertanen had another short-handed goal sandwiched in between at 18:19 to give Flyers’ fans something to cheer about.
Lakers’ starting goalie Jameson Shortreed saved nine-of-11 shots before giving way to Tyler Ampe after the second Flyer goal.
Ampe ended up with 22 saves.
Sioux Lookout goalie Jesse Wilkins turned aside 47 in the losing cause.
Both the Lakers’ power play and Katapaytuk remained sizzling in Saturday night’s game here against Thunder Bay.
They combined for the Lakers’ first goal as Katapaytuk buried a Jace Baldwin rebound at 9:10.
Thunder Bay replied late in the stanza, however, as Kyle Bruekelman dialed home a goal just 10 seconds into a North Stars’ five-on-three, wristing one under Ampe’s glove.
Fort Frances regained the lead at 11:20 of the second when Ryan Wildman dug the puck out of a scrum and lifted one over goalie Guillaume Piche for his seventh.
The Lakers then made it 3-1 at 17:59 when Connor Hady’s power-play rocket found its way through traffic and into the net for his third of the season.
Fort Frances put the nail in the coffin early in the third as captain Tyler Stevenson notched his 26th after stickhandling his way out of the corner and putting a wrister past Piche at 5:44.
The goal was Stevenson’s 17th power-play tally.
Newcomer Dan Smith came through with the Lakers’ final man-advantage goal of the night, taking a Hady pass at 9:13 before turning and firing to beat Piche blocker side.
The goal was the second of the year—and first as a Laker—for the former Fort Frances Jr. Sabre.
Thunder Bay cut the lead to 5-2 when Mitch Marostica notched one at 12:35 that was similar to Bruekelman’s earlier goal, although this one came after a five-on-three had just expired.
Katapaytuk rounded out the scoring with his 14th of the year, performing a spin-a-rama in front of Piche and depositing the puck just 22 seconds after the Thunder Bay goal.
Ampe blocked 35 shots in all while Piche turned aside 29.
The Lakers will look to hang on to first place when they visit Thunder Bay for a pair of games this Friday and Saturday.
Then they’ll return home for a game versus the expansion Duluth Clydesdales next Monday (Dec. 13) at 7:30 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena.