The tides have been starting to shift for the Fort Frances Lakers of late.
After snapping a six-game losing streak on Wednesday with a 6-3 win over the lowly Minnesota Iron Rangers in Hoyt Lakes, the Lakers carried that momentum into the weekend by taking five of six points at the Ice For Kids Arena.
Fort Frances cruised to a 6-1 romp over the English River Miners on Friday night, then dropped a tough 5-4 overtime decision to the Dryden GM Ice Dogs the following night before downing the Iron Rangers again 4-1 yesterday afternoon.
Ian Tookenay and Nick Lucas both notched three assists Friday to help the Lakers dispatch the Miners.
In what likely is a preview of their first-round playoff matchup, Fort Frances gained the upper hand early with a trio of first-period tallies off the sticks of Colton Bodnar, Christian Ward, and Adam Withers (power play).
Lakers’ captain Julian Uhryniuk then made it 4-0 with his eighth goal of the season at 9:19 of the second.
After Ian Jarvis pushed the lead to five early in the third period before Jaedin Ness made it 6-0.
The Miners spoiled Ismael Ralsten’s bid for his first SIJHL shutout when Ryan Patterson scored during a man-advantage with 3:45 to go.
Ralsten finished with 41 stops while Westin Cardwell turned aside 34 shots in defeat.
On Saturday, an Evan Walls breakaway goal 2:04 into overtime was the difference as the Ice Dogs pulled out the victory.
Withers and Christian Ward gave Fort Frances a pair of leads in the first period–only to see Jacen Bracko and Eric Stout counter with equalizers for Dryden.
Withers put the Lakers ahead once more 8:42 into the second frame. Once again, however, the Ice Dogs came back to tie it on another goal by Stout.
Fort Frances took their fourth lead of the night 49 seconds into the third when Lucas buried a power-play marker to make it 4-3.
Undaunted, Matthew Pitchenese netted the equalizer with just 2:43 left to force overtime and set the stage for Walls’ heroics.
Landon Pavlisin made 37 saves to earn the win while Ralsten made 29 stops in taking the loss.
Then in a Family Day matinee yesterday against the Iron Rangers, Ness scored twice to pace the Lakers.
Withers also netted a goal and added two helpers.
Ness opened the scoring at 16:57 when he beat Iron Rangers’ goalie Tyler Thompson on a man-advantage for his 25th of the campaign.
Withers then made it 2-0 when he blasted a shot home from the right face-off circle at 5:28 of the second.
Uhryniuk made it a three-goal cushion early in the third as he collected his ninth at 4:22.
Minnesota got on the board with 11:01 to go as Eli Kinsman’s 13th on a man advantage dashed Brett Akins’ shutout bid.
The visitors then pulled Thompson in the late stages to try to get back into the game.
It backfired, though, as Ness iced the victory with a empty-netter with 1:33 to go.
Akins finished with 28 stops while Thompson made 45 saves.
The Lakers (14-28-2-4) will cap their four-game homestand against the fourth-place Miners (23-19-0-4) this Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena.
In related news, Tookenay was named the SIJHL’s Play It Again Sports player-of-the-week for the period ending Feb. 18.
In three games over that span, the 17-year-old Fort Frances native had multiple points in each of them as he totalled seven assists in all.
As the youngest player on the Lakers’ roster, Tookenay sits fourth in team scoring with 32 points, including nine goals.