It turns out that to be the best, you have to beat the best—regularly.
The Fort Frances Lakers (7-5) are finding that out the hard way after getting bounced 7-3 by the host Fort William North Stars (9-1) on Saturday night.
On the bright side, the local Junior ‘A’ squad doubled the expansion Duluth Clydesdales (3-5-1) by a 4-2 margin there last night.
The North Stars came out like gangbusters Saturday night, blitzing the Lakers for four goals and chasing starter Jameson Shortreed before the first-period horn sounded.
Spencer Hogan—who tallied the equalizer and the game-winner in Fort Williams’ 4-2 comeback win here Oct. 8—proved his first-period worth Saturday, tallying just 2:15 in.
The Lakers responded quickly, however, as goal-scoring leader Tyler Stevenson evened the game at 1-1 at 4:02.
But Hogan struck again at 11:38 before Mitch Galbraith and Sam Dubinsky notched goals just 15 seconds apart to end Shortreed’s evening at the 17:30 mark.
Fort William increased its lead to 5-1 when Mitch Forbes netted one at 8:28 of the second.
The Lakers refused to play dead, though, as Byron Katapaytuk notched a power-play marker, his seventh goal of the season, at 12:55 to help get Fort Frances back in it.
Newcomer Brad Bienvenu furthered the cause 1:59 later, bulging the twine in his first game since arriving in a trade from Sioux Lookout.
The rally came undone in the third as Forbes scored a pair 2:36 apart early in the period to complete his hat trick and round out the scoring.
In all, Shortreed made 10 saves on 14 shots during his stint between the pipes while Tyler Ampe made 17 saves on 20 shots in relief.
At the other end, Jay Pelletier turned aside 32 Lakers’ shots.
The Lakers got back on track last night although their early-game woes struck once again.
Tom Paine opened the scoring for Duluth at 5:13, stumping Ampe.
But the Lakers got cooking in the second as Henry Gutierrez pumped home his third goal of the season at 10:33.
He was followed by Jace Baldwin, who tallied a pair of power-play markers just 1:25 apart to bring his total to five on the year.
Jaret Leclair rounded out the seven-minute attack with his third at 17:21 to give Fort Frances a 4-1 lead after two.
Josh Wentz brought the Clydesdales closer late in the game, tallying at 15:37, but Ampe shut the door the rest of the way.
He made 28 saves in all.
Duluth’s Cody Stocker turned aside 15 shots in his two periods of work while Jeff Dunaisky stopped all seven shots he faced in the third.
Last night’s game saw Stevenson’s goal-scoring streak end at eight games, in which he amassed 11 over that span.
But he did extend his point streak to nine games with an assist on Baldwin’s second goal.
Both Lakers’ special teams streaks remained intact—extending their streak of games with a power-play goal to 10 while also bumping their streak of games without allowing a power-play goal to nine.
The Lakers and Clydesdales will meet again this Friday at noon in Spooner, Wis. as part of the SIJHL’s “showcase” weekend.
They will also clash with Fort William at noon on Saturday.