A five-goal outburst in the first period propelled the Fort Frances Lakers to a convincing 10-2 victory over the expansion Iron Range Ironheads on Tuesday night in Chisholm.
That double-digit explosion also was the most goals by a local team in the SIJHL since the 2008 season, when the former Jr. Sabres blanked the Sioux Lookout Flyers 11-0.
“We wanted to be focused, intense, and also play as a team, and for the for the most part we did a solid job of all three of those things,” noted Lakers’ head coach and general manager Wayne Strachan.
“We jumped on them early on, with Byron’s [Katapaytuk] line setting the tone on the very first shift by pressuring hard and cycling the puck down low, and the rest of the team just followed suit,” he added.
Katapaytuk and Jordan Larson were the hottest snipers for the Lakers as both had hat tricks. Katapaytuk also added an assist.
“Byron often dominated shifts with his power, and Jordan used his finesse and his skill to out wit their defensive game,” Strachan explained.
“Both of them were very good in leading the way and they both had many chances to bury more opportunities than six that they did,” he recalled.
Matching Katapaytuk with a four-point outing was forward Kody Kennedy, who tallied once and assisted on three other markers.
“Kody’s best two games for us have been his last two,” Strachan said of Kennedy, who joined the Lakers in mid-October.
“He is working harder and driving to the net, and it also helps that [his linemates] Byron and Ryan Wildman are also contributing on the score sheet,” he remarked.
Wildman, along with Adam Wensley and Connor Hady, added three assist, with Dallas Allaire, Jaret Leclair, and Henry Gutierrez also hitting the twine.
Thanks to their victory over the Ironheads, who remain winless after nine games of play, the Lakers sport a league best 13-2-2 record and now lead the Wisconsin Wilderness by four points heading into their contest in Spooner on Saturday night.
In related news, the Lakers made a trade Tuesday, sending forward Ben Michaud to the Duluth Clydesdales in exchange for future considerations.
“Ben asked for a trade closer to home so that he could also go to school,” Strachan explained.
“He was a player that was in and out of our lineup for discipline reasons as well as consistency issues, and he said that he wasn’t enjoying his time being in and out of the lineup and that he would rather go home.
“We had high hopes for Ben early in the season, but our depth up front made us make decisions on our lineup and Ben was sometimes in those decisions,” Strachan added.
“We wish him the best of luck in Duluth with the Clydesdales.”
A 19-year-old from Cloquet, Mn., Michaud had three goals and an assist in 11 games for the Lakers.