The Ice For Kids Arena was the place to be Tuesday night if you like thrilling hockey.
A hat trick by captain Nick Lucas helped spur the Fort Frances Lakers (5-4-0-0) to a wild 6-4 win over the Dryden GM Ice Dogs in SIJHL action.
After recently returning to the Lakers’ lineup following a knee injury, Ethan Knusten netted his first SIJHL goal on a wrister from the slot to open the scoring just 1:42 into the game.
Evan Pakkala drew Dryden (3-3-2-0) even at 7:32 but Lucas notched his first of the night on a man-advantage just over five minutes later with a shot that went off the crossbar and in to put the Lakers back up 2-1.
Eric Stout capitalized on a juicy rebound off Lakers’ goalie Jacob Gnidziejko and promptly fired home the equalizer at 12:26 of the second.
Then with just 41 seconds to go in the frame, Jacob Siebenga gave the Ice Dogs their first lead of the night when he tipped in a point shot while Dryden applied sustained pressure in the Lakers’ zone.
The lead was short-lived, though. Carter Brown took a double-minor spearing penalty soon after and it proved costly for his team as Dane Bateman made it 3-3 with a blast from the point just 13 seconds into the power play.
Then Lucas scored his second of the game just before the buzzer that put the Lakers back in front 4-3 after 40 minutes.
Cole Allan netted his second of the season on a cross-ice feed from Kirk Coppock 14:49 into third to widen it to 5-3.
The Ice Dogs pulled goalie Carson Murison with under two minutes to go in regulation time in an attempt to tie it, and they made good when Cameron Coutre beat Gnidziejko to trim it to 5-4 with 1:13 left.
But Lucas capped his first SIJHL hat trick on an empty-netter with 12 seconds to go to preserve the Lakers’ fifth win of the season.
Gnidziejko made 33 saves to earn the win while Murison took the loss after surrendering five goals on 33 shots.
The third-place Lakers next are in action tomorrow night when they battle the first-place North Stars (7-0-1-0) in Thunder Bay.