The Fort Frances Lakers played a pair of close games over the weekend but came out on the wrong side of the scoresheet in both.
Ryan Green’s goal just under five minutes into the second period proved to be the winner as the expansion Wisconsin Lumberjacks blanked the Lakers 1-0 on Saturday night at the Spooner Civic Center to sweep the home-and-home series.
After a scoreless first period, Nicholas Solema fired a pass from his own zone that sent the Lumberjacks out on a 3-on-1, where Dalton Garcia put one on the tape of Green who promptly wired one from the slot high over Lakers’ goalie Alex Bugeja to give Wisconsin goalie Nathan Mueller all the offence he would need.
Mueller turned aside all 25 shots he faced to nab his first-ever SIJHL shutout for the Lumberjacks, who improved to 2-5-1.
Bugeja was stellar in making 42 saves in a losing cause for the Lakers, who have now dropped three straight (4-4-1).
On Friday night, Kayle Bocken scored a highlight-reel goal just 20 seconds into overtime to lift the Lumberjacks to a 6-5 win at the Ice For Kids Arena.
It also was the first-ever SIJHL win for the Lumberjacks’ franchise.
Tyler Shetland scored twice and added an assist while Cade Moreland, Joel Matthews, and Green also tallied for Wisconsin.
The line of Stone Stelzl, Ben Hoefler, and Tyler Malpass had a big night in breaking out with seven points combined in the loss for the Lakers.
Stelzl and Hoefler both scored twice and added a helper each while Malpass had the lone assist. Captain Noah Loveday had the other goal for the Lakers.
Moreland and Matthews both tallied within the first four minutes to put the Lumberjacks in the driver’s seat early in Friday night’s game.
After Green extended the lead to three with a power-play marker, Loveday got a lucky one for the Lakers as he coralled the bounce of Jack Lane’s shot off the glass behind the Lumberjacks’ net and fired one in just over the right pad of Mueller to trim it to 3-1 after 20 minutes.
That spelled the end of the night for Lakers’ goalie Dylan Kosik, who was lifted in favour of Bugeja to start the second period.
The Lumberjacks came out quickly to go ahead 4-1 just a minute-and-a-half into the second as Shetland flew down the ice and roofed one for his first SIJHL marker.
The Lakers got two back off the stick of Hoefler, including a splendid skate-to-stick effort and one with a quick in-and-out move, to make it a one-goal game.
Skating four-on-four, Wisconsin countered that with Shetland securing his second of the evening just a couple shifts later to put the Lumberjacks ahead by two.
Stelzl forced a turnover in his own zone before skating up the left side and cutting in on goal and snapping one high and in at 15:36 to make it 5-4 after 40 minutes.
He then helped force extra time midway through the third as his second of the evening came during a goal-mouth scramble, with Malpass and Hoefler picking up assists on the play.
In extra time, Dalton Garcia collected his second helper of the night as he got the puck back to Bocken, who darted up the ice through two Fort Frances defenders into the low slot and lifted a backhand high into the top right-hand corner to secure win No. 1 for the Lumberjacks.
Mueller made 34 saves to also earn the win in that one.
Kosik allowed three goals-against on 15 shots while Bugeja made 24 saves to take the loss in lengthy relief.
The Lakers will resume action tonight when they welcome the Red Lake Miners (5-2) to town before hosting the first-place Thunder Bay North Stars (7-1) on Friday night (Oct. 18).
Tonight’s game starts at 7 p.m. while Friday’s will be a 7:30 start, with the Ice For Kids Arena serving as the host venue for both contests.