There weren’t many positives for Fort Frances Lakers’ head coach and general manager Wayne Strachan to draw from after a lacklustre effort from his squad Friday night.
The Dryden GM Ice Dogs stormed out to a 3-0 first-period lead and faced little resistance from the hosts en route to a 6-2 win at the Ice For Kids Arena.
“It was like déja vu if you think about two weeks ago when the [Red Lake] Miners came in here shorthanded,” Strachan said after the game.
“The same thing happened and we come out flat, thought it was gonna be easy, and we’re down 3-0 after the first period.
“They came hungry, they wanted it more, and they had to jump on us to have an opportunity to have success tonight and they played a great game,” he added.
“We didn’t show up.”
Given the Lakers just had snapped a season-high seven-game losing streak the previous Saturday (Dec. 8) with a 5-3 win over the Miners here, Friday’s effort was a hard pill to swallow for Strachan.
“I don’t even have the words to say how I feel right now,” he remarked.
“If you just compare last week to tonight, the passion we had last week, the work ethic, we stuck to the game plan, guys were ready, they were positive, they wanted to win,” Strachan noted.
“And tonight we were lacklustre, didn’t compete, didn’t win any battles, didn’t win any foot races, played scared at times, and didn’t do the little things that are necessary to beat hockey teams that have good players and skilled players,” he stressed.
“And if you don’t outwork teams, then you don’t give yourself an opportunity to win games in this league.”
The fifth-place Lakers (10-16-0-0) resume action tonight against those same fourth-place Ice Dogs (12-11-2-1 heading into yesterday) in Dryden.
Then they’ll host the third-place Thief River Falls Norskies (14-9-3-1) on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena before having a two-week break for the holidays.
“First and foremost, hard work,” Strachan replied when asked what he would be looking for from his squad in this week’s games.
“We gotta bounce back from this game and move on from it, but we need a lot more guys to care in our locker-room,” he added.
“When you look around the league and you see the guys teams have added, and they’re the same guys we could have added but we’ve given opportunities to players to come around, or players we believe in, and it just hasn’t worked,” Strachan admitted.
“You see these players we could have had and you think, ‘Oh man, what could your roster could be like if you really did add them?’ and it’s just disheartening.
“But, again, we need to move on from this and we need hard work,” he reiterated.
The Ice Dogs were strong early Friday night as they tallied three times before the first period was 10-and-a-half minutes old on markers by Trygve Many Guns, Evan Pakkala, and Kyle Sargent to chase Lakers’ starter Matt Booth.
Cameron Coutre then struck on a short-handed breakaway 3:05 into the second when he snapped a shot past Jacob Gnidziejko to make it 4-0.
The Lakers finally got on the board midway through the frame when Dane Bateman banged