It’s been a tough stretch of late for the Fort Frances Lakers and those woes were extended over the weekend.
The Lakers were edged out by the visiting Dryden GM Ice Dogs by a 2-1 count on Friday night and then followed that up with their worst game of the season in an 8-3 thumping at the hands of the Thief River Falls Norskies on Saturday night at the Ice For Kids Arena.
Fort Frances is now mired in a six-game losing streak and has slipped to fifth in the SIJHL standings with a 7-10-1 record, just four points up on the expansion Wisconsin Lumberjacks (5-11-1).
Former Laker Isaac Baron had a five assist night while Jack Michels notched his first career SIJHL hat trick to pace the Norskies’ onslaught here on Saturday night.
Bryce Johnson also dished out five helpers for the Norskies, who jumped the Ice Dogs for third in the standings as they improved to 8-7-2.
Local forward Nick Hahkala opened the scoring for the Lakers 4:18 into the first period as he fired home his third of the season from the slot past Norskies’ goalie Joshua Seely, who was making his first SIJHL start.
That lead was short-lived however, as Connor Kalthoff fired one past Lakers’ goalie Dylan Kosik just 37 seconds later on a power play to knot it at 1-1.
Bryce Johnson and Tyler Johnson then bulged the twine to put the visitors ahead by two before Tyler Malpass deked through the Norskies’ defence and rifled home his first of the season to trim it to 3-2 after 20 minutes.
Kosik was lifted in favour of Alex Bugeja to start the second period, but didn’t fare much better as the Norskies tallied five times in the frame to take control of the game.
Michels buried his first two goals of the night before Lakers’ affiliate player Praveen Dhaliwal lit the lamp to make it a 5-3 game.
But Kalthoff and Mason McIntosh took advantage of some porous Lakers’ defence to both tally before Michels capped his hat trick at 18:37 to round out the scoring.
Neither side was able to tally in the third period.
Seeley finished with an impressive 42 saves to record the win in his SIJHL debut for Thief River Falls.
Kosik turned aside 16 of 19 shots he saw while Bugeja made 14 stops on 19 attempts in lengthy relief to take the loss for Fort Frances.
On Friday night, Justin Pitari’s goal five minutes into the third period held up as the game-winner as the Ice Dogs (8-9-1) came back to earn the narrow road win.
The Lakers also opened the scoring in that one was well as Kaleb Bruyere finished off a nice cross-ice feed from Ben Hoefler 13:10 into the first frame.
Then in the second, the Ice Dogs drew level as Nolan Marshall drove through the circle off a Josh Weber faceoff win and buried his own rebound past Bugeja.
Knotted at 1-1 in the third, Pitari buried the difference-maker as he finished off a nice rush up the ice by Dryden defenceman Ben Forbes.
Jacob Anthony made 32 saves to nab the win while Bugeja was solid in making 37 stops to take the loss.
The Lakers will look to reverse their recent fortunes this Saturday (Nov. 16) when they head to Spooner to take on the Lumberjacks.