Lakers shut out North Stars in home game


It was daunting task but the weekend turned out about as well as they could have imagined.

The Fort Frances Lakers took three of a possible four points against the defending SIJHL champion Thunder Bay North Stars in a home-and-home series with a 6-5 overtime loss on the road Friday night before pulling out a 2-0 win on Saturday night here.

Alex Bugeja turned aside all 41 shots he faced to earn his first career SIJHL shutout as the Lakers shut down the league-leading North Stars on Saturday night at the Ice For Kids Arena.

Flynn Perry and Tyler Malpass scored power-play goals in the third period to pace the Lakers’ offence.

Former Laker Dylan Kosik was solid in making 32 stops in a losing cause for the North Stars, who fell to 34-16-3.

After a scoreless first 40 minutes, Perry finally opened the scoring for the Lakers (20-27-4-2) on a man advantage nearly nine minutes into the third off some nice puck movement as he ripped a one-timer in the high slot off a Mathieu Harrold feed that flew into the top left-hand corner of the net.

The Lakers then added some insurance with another power-play goal at 16:57 as Colton Bodnar’s blast from the point hit Tyler Malpass, who was parked in front of Kosik, and it bounced in to round out the scoring.

On Friday night, Malpass netted a hat trick for the Lakers, including scoring the tying goal late in regulation, but it wasn’t enough as they lost a wild affair in overtime at the Fort William Gardens.

Cody Bruchkowski, who leads the SIJHL with 58 goals, responded with a hat trick of his own for the North Stars while Alex Erwin buried the OT winner with 26 seconds remaining.

Nikolas Campbell and Joel Willan also scored for Thunder Bay while Koskik earned the win in lengthy relief by making 19 saves.

Seth McKay started the game for the North Stars, allowing three goals against on 13 shots.

Nakoda Thunderchief and Perry also scored for the Lakers while Dean Buchholz turned aside 35 shots in taking the loss.

The last-place Lakers now will end the regular season with a three-game homestand this week.

Fort Frances will welcome the North Stars once again tomorrow night at 7 p.m. before hosting the fifth-place Wisconsin Lumberjacks (21-27-5-1) on Friday night at 7:30 p.m.

The Lakers trail the Lumberjacks by just two points in the standings.

The squad then will take on the second-place Red Lake Miners (31-18-3-2) on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. in the regular-season finale.

All three games will take place at the Ice For Kids Arena in Fort Frances.