Lakers keep Miners winless

Joey Payeur

Even with two new partners riding shotgun, it’s business as usual for Mason Meyer.
The International Falls native netted a pair of goals, and combined with linemates Colton Spicer and Wyatt Cota for eight points, to help the Fort Frances Lakers beat the English River Miners 5-2 on Tuesday night in Ear Falls.
Meyer teamed with Lucas DeBenedet and Lyndon Lipinski last season to wreak havoc on opposing netminders as the highest scoring trio in the SIJHL.
With the latter two having moved one this season, Meyer hasn’t missed a beat in joining forces with Fort native Spicer and Kingston product Cota.
“I believe they have clicked so soon because they all have high hockey IQs,” noted Lakers’ head coach and general manager Wayne Strachan.
“They are moving their feet and playing positions, and finding one another.
“They all bring something different,” Strachan added. “‘Mase’ has power, speed, and puts himself in the right areas to open holes up to create scoring opportunities.
“Colton is calm and can make plays that some players don’t see,” he said.
“He is patient with the puck and can flat out score.
“Wyatt is a smooth skater that has good hands and reads the ice well to make plays or open ice up for his linemates,” lauded Strachan
Meyer and Spicer each had three points Tuesday night, with Spicer already up five points in the SIJHL scoring race with 13.
Cota had an empty-netter for his first goal as a Laker and added an assist.
Fort Frances (4-1) jumped in front on Meyer’s goal at 1:48 of the first before Eric Champagne replied for the Miners (0-4) at 8:02.
Carter Chorney notched in his second of the season at 3:45 of the second before Meyer supplied what would be the decisive goal at 6:10.
“Colton found Wyatt on the left side of the ice, Wyatt drove wide [while] ‘Mase’ went to the net on the back door creating a lane, and Wyatt made a nice feed to him to put it in the net,” recounted Strachan.
It was Meyer’s sixth of the season, which puts him second in the league behind Matt Houston of the Minnesota Iron Rangers (seven).
Dominic Blouin carved into the deficit with his goal at 11:44, but that would be the last to evade Lakers’ goalie Ryan Ferguson, who made 25 saves in his first start of the season.
“Ryan played well and was focused and ready in the net for the team [Tuesday],” said Strachan.
“He was square to pucks, giving himself the opportunity to make saves, and he always battles in net,” he added.
“He made saves we needed and gave us the chance to have success in the game.”
Bryson Jasper, after missing the previous three games with a wrist injury suffered in the season-opener Sept. 19 against the Thunder Bay North Stars, provided some insurance at 2:42 of the third when he redirected Chorney’s pass behind Miners’ goalie Greg Harney (36 saves).
“Bryson played well and stepped nicely back into the lineup,” said Strachan.
“He was working hard and played a smart hockey game.”
Cota sealed the deal with his shot into the yawning cage with 32 seconds left after English River had pulled Harney for the extra attacker.
Former Muskie Josh Gouin was put into the lineup to make his SIJHL regular-season debut with the absence of blueliners Gordon Campbell (first game of three-game suspension) and Ryan Reeves (foot injury).
“I thought Josh played a decent hockey game,” said Strachan.
“He kept things simple, moved the puck well, and put a few shots to the net.
“He has some areas of his game we need to work with him on defensively,” Strachan added.
“But for his first regular-season action, he stepped in and played well in the absence of Campbell and Reeves from the lineup.”
Reeves sustained a chipped bone in his foot after blocking a shot against Thunder Bay last Saturday and is out indefinitely.
The Lakers next will lock horns with the only team to trip them up so far this season—the Ice Dogs (4-0-0-1)—in a battle for first place this Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Ice for Kids Arena.
Fort Frances then will host English River on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.