Lakers salvage split of series


The Fort Frances Lakers were able to tame the Wisconsin Wilderness, eventually.
One night after coughing up a late lead en route to a 4-3 loss in Spooner, Wis., the Lakers rebounded in the tail end of the home-and-home series, turning the tables for a 5-3 win here Saturday.
The Lakers (2-2) were forced to come from behind both nights, digging a 2-0 hole on Friday and 1-0 on Saturday.
In Friday’s game, Wisconsin’s Dawson Kuhlman tallied on the power play at 8:51 of the first period before James Kline extended the lead at 7:53 of the second.
But the Lakers showed some fight as Byron Katapaytuk cut the lead less than three minutes later.
Katapaytuk then set up Ryan Wildman’s equalizer at 7:15 of the third before giving Fort Frances the 3-2 lead with his third of the young season at 12:34.
Lucas Hendrickson knotted the game just 2:07 later with Cody Hasbargen in the box.
Then with the game appearing set for overtime, Kuhlman tallied his second of the night on Tyler Ampe with just 17 seconds left in regulation to steal the win.
Ampe made 29 saves while his counterpart, John McLean, made 25.
Back on home ice for Saturday’s game, the faithful crowd of 430 couldn’t rouse the locals from their slow-starting ways.
Wilson Housley was handed the puck in front of an empty cage at 7:10 and he made no mistake to put Wisconsin up 1-0.
The Lakers finally gave the crowd something to cheer about more midway through the second.
Jace Baldwin banged home his second of the year at 11:19 before captain Tyler Stevenson deflected a Phil Jennrich point shot at 16:25 to snare the Lakers a lead.
Both goals came on the power play.
Stevenson extended the lead with another power-play goal in the third, catching McLean cheating off the post and jamming one past his right foot for his fourth of the year at 8:20.
Wisconsin surged back with a vengeance, however, as Austin Adduono tallied at 11:02 before Kuhlman knocked home a feed from Nick Szopinski on the power play just 1:38 later.
But the Lakers were able to right themselves—and Jennrich was the beneficiary.
With 2:02 to go, he took a drop pass from Katapaytuk and wired a wrister past McLean’s glove for his fourth point of the night.
Davis Smith then sealed the deal with his first of the year, picking up a loose puck at the Lakers blueline, charging through the neutral zone, and firing home the empty-netter.
The Lakers went three-for-five on the power play in Saturday’s game while limiting Wisconsin to just one man-advantage tally in 11 chances.
Jameson Shortreed made 28 saves in the win while McLean turned aside 26 shots for Wisconsin (2-2).
The Lakers return to SIJHL action tomorrow when they host the Dryden Ice Dogs (4-3) at 7:30 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena.