Lakers drop pair to Miners


The Fort Frances Lakers have come oh so close in games lately but it still hasn’t registered in the win column.

Despite their best efforts, the Lakers dropped both games of a home-and-home series against the Red Lake Miners over the weekend.

Fort Frances has now dropped seven straight games and has seen its record fall to 13-21-3.

Spencer Milne provided a career single-game high four goals, including the game-winner, as his big offensive performance led the Miners to a narrow 5-4 win on Saturday night at the Cochenour Arena.

Down a skater early, Shaye Sommerfeld struck short-handed for the Miners (24-11-3-2) three minutes into the first period to give the home side the early lead.

Still on the power play, though, Fort Frances came right back to tie it on Matthieu Harrold’s seventh since joining the club back in early December.

Stone Stelzl then broke through the Red Lake defence and went in alone on Zach Willms where he made a quick deke right and slid in a backhand to put the guests in front.

Reece Hopfner then stuffed one in a couple of shifts later to give the Lakers a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes.

But Milne tallied twice in quick order to level the proceedings before Harrold slammed in his second of the night at 19:09 as his man advantage effort gave Fort Frances a 4-3 edge through 40 minutes.

In the third, it was more from Milne as his hat trick tally at 6:01 knotted the affair once more.

Then on a late power play, Milne took a feed from Keilan Toews before making a quick power move on top of the crease and burying the game-winner past Lakers’ goalie Alex Bugeja to cap the scoring.

Zach Willms made 31 saves to earn the win while Bugeja turned aside 28 shots in taking the loss.

The night prior, Ethan Stuckless’ goal, with just under three minutes left in regulation, was the difference as the Miners pulled out a late 2-1 win over the Lakers in the opener at the Ice For Kids Arena.

The Miners opened the scoring early in the first on a nice individual effort off a face-off as Ryan Howe tucked home a wraparound attempt on Lakers’ goalie Dean Bucholz.

The Lakers came back to tie it just a few shifts later as Kyle Uzelman buried his 11th of the season from in close to knot it at 1-1 after 20 minutes.

Following a scoreless second stanza, Red Lake had a chance to regain the lead at 4:31 but Buchholz thwarted Jordan Baranesky on a penalty shot to keep the score level.

However, deep into the third, and with some pressure in the Lakers’ zone, Howe got it in front to Stuckless who finished off a backhander from the slot for the game-winner.

The Lakers pulled Bucholz and pressed for the equalizer, but could not solve Zach Willms in the Miners net, who finished with 38 saves to nab the win.

Buchholz, meanwhile, faced 28 shots in the narrow defeat.

The last-place Lakers will resume action tomorrow when they head to Spooner, Wis. for the SIJHL’s annual two-day “Showcase” at the Spooner Civic Center.

Fort Frances will open play tomorrow afternoon with a showdown against the league-leading Thunder Bay North Stars (26-12-3) at 1:15 p.m.

The Lakers then will conclude play at the “Showcase” the following afternoon, when they take on the Miners once again at 4:15 p.m.

All of the “Showcase” games will count towards the league standings.

Fort Frances then will wrap up the week with a home-and-home series against the third-place Thief River Falls Norskies.

The Norskies will host the opener on Friday night at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, with both teams then heading back to Fort Frances the following night for the finale at 7:30 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena.