Lakers fall to Wilderness


It’s hard to tell whether the Fort Frances Lakers have totally played themselves off the “nice” list and onto the “naughty” one in recent weeks.
The Lakers (19-11-3) saw their losing skid hit five games Friday night as they dropped a 4-3 decision to the visiting Wisconsin Wilderness (21-6-3).
However, two of those five games went to overtime—and all of the losses have been by a single goal.
Wisconsin got on the board at 8:34 of the first when James Kline was allowed a number of whacks at the puck in front of goalie Tyler Ampe and eventually forced it over the line.
The Lakers had a chance to equalize in the following minutes as Cody Hasbargen’s point shot knocked Wisconsin goalie Jake Hebda’s stick out of his hand.
There was a scramble but Fort Frances couldn’t beat the stick-less netminder.
The Wilderness went up 2-0 at 11:52 thanks to a 3-on-0 breakaway.
The puck made its way to Keith Tessin, who deked out Ampe and roofed the puck into the net.
The Lakers climbed to within one late in the frame when Phil Jennrich unleashed a howitzer from the point.
The power-play marker—his third of the season—went in just under Hebda’s glove at 17:14.
But Wisconsin regained its two-goal lead with the lone tally of the second period.
Andrew Anderson and Steve Hughes broke out on a 2-on-1, with Hughes feeding Anderson for a blocker-side marker.
The Wilderness then went up by three early in the third as Austin Adduono collected a Wilson Housley feed and tapped the puck into the open net at 2:08.
The Lakers responded quickly, however, as captain Tyler Stevenson corralled a Morgan McNeill rebound and whipped home a power-play goal for his 27th of the season.
Fort Frances thought it had climbed to within one midway through the frame when a player came out from behind the net and fired one past Hebda.
But play continued. The Lakers argued their case at the next stoppage of play to no avail.
They eventually did pull to within one when Jace Baldwin tipped a Jennrich point shot into the net.
The goal—the Lakers’ third power-play tally of the night and Baldwin’s 13th overall—came with just three seconds to go.
Ampe made 18 saves while Hebda turned aside 27 shots.
The Lakers are now heading out on their Christmas break, but will return to action for an exhibition game against the local senior ‘AAA’ Thunderhawks next Tuesday (Dec. 28) at 6:45 p.m. at Ice For Kids Arena.
Then they’ll resume their SIJHL schedule on New Year’s Eve when they visit the Duluth Clydesdales.
The teams will complete the home-and-home series Jan. 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena.